Keynote Lectures

Thursday, October 12:  5:30pm – 7:00pm (Moyse Hall, McGill University)

Deborah Cowen (Geography and Planning, University of Toronto)

Porting Infrastructure: Cartographies of Logistics Space

This talk explores the role of logistics infrastructure in the formation and contestation of settler colonial space. It takes the occasion of two key contemporary events – ‘Canada 150’ and the inauguration of the Canada Infrastructure Bank – to reflect on the role of transport and trade infrastructures in crafting violent relations between people and places. Organized through a series of maps, all anchored in the port of Montreal, this exploratory talk engages a handful of sites and scenes in the making of national and urban space. Along the way, it interrogates the politics of finance, labour, state power and military force, through some of their defining technoscientific materialities. While infrastructures like the national railroad already figure centrally in official and critical accounts of Canadian nationhood, this investigation offers fresh insight into the politics and possibilities of porting in light of the resurgent investment in national infrastructures and national narratives, and their radical contestation.

Deborah Cowen is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto, and a 2016 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow. She is the author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade, Military Workfare: The Soldier and Social Citizenship in Canada, co-editor, with Emily Gilbert, of War, Citizenship, Territory. Deborah’s research addresses questions about the intimate life of war in ostensibly civilian spaces, the securitization of critical infrastructure, and the politics of race and space in settler societies. Deborah collaborated with the National Film Board of Canada’s Emmy award winning HIGHRISE project and serves on the board of the Groundswell Community Justice Trust Fund in Toronto.

Saturday, October 14: 5:00pm – 6:30pm (EV 6.720, Concordia University)

Ramon Lobato (School of Media and Communications, RMIT University, Melbourne)

Geographies of Streaming 

The rise of internet TV presents a challenge for the field of global television studies, which must now address unfamiliar topics ranging from internet infrastructure to platform regulation and personalisation. Conceptually, it also requires us to fine-tune some of the models we use to think about television distribution, including the relationship between television’s spatial categories — territory, market, nation, and signal-area. This paper uses Netflix as an entry point into these wider questions. As of 2016, Netflix is potentially available almost everywhere, yet actual awareness and use of Netflix varies dramatically from country to country. Embraced in Australia, temporarily blocked in Indonesia, received with mild curiosity in Japan, and ignored across much of Asia and Africa, Netflix has had an uneven global impact that reflects variations in market conditions, levels of connectivity, and audiovisual licensing norms, as well as the stubbornly local nature of taste, trade, and regulation. In this paper, I track some of the controversies that have followed in the wake of Netflix’s internationalisation. These range from concerns about local content protection through to battles over infrastructure and net neutrality. I also explain how Netflix is proving to be a testing ground for evergreen debates about the politics of media imperialism, globalization, hybridity, and other unfinished business in global media studies.

Ramon Lobato is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Melbourne. A media industries scholar with a special interest in distribution, Ramon has written widely on intellectual property and piracy, and their relation to film culture. Ramon’s books include Shadow Economies of Cinema (British Film Institute, 2012), The Informal Media Economy (Polity, 2015, with Julian Thomas), and the co-edited collection Geoblocking and Global Video Culture (INC 2016), a comparative study of streaming and circumvention practices. He has also published more than 30 book chapters and articles on topics ranging from cloud storage to YouTube.