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SPAIS Annual/Leverhulme Visiting Professor Lecture 2024 – Victoria Hattam – ‘Border Economies / Capitalist Imaginaries’

Wednesday 6 March at 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

How do the contradictory demands of border walls and supply chains co-exist? Each of these political forces pushes in contradictory directions: sovereignty and walls seek to establish territorial limits while globalization, by definition, is a boundary crossing enterprise. Yet, both are flourishing simultaneously: how are the contradictory demands reconciled?

Drawing on research along the U.S.- Mexico border, Hattam traces global production networks in the Rio Grande Valley. Things are not made in one country and sold in another; they are produced across, or on top of, the border. Producing globally not only allows multi-national companies to arbitrage national inequalities for profit; it also allows us to view capitalism itself from a different angle. Extensive infrastructures are needed for global production networks to cross, but not breach, claims to national sovereignty. Hattam refers to these shapeshifting infrastructures as the sluice gates of globalization. Rather than seeing capitalist logics as the problem and anti-capitalism as the cornerstone of a critical counter-politics, Hattam foregrounds capitalism’s rapacious reach and its internal heterogeneity. Holding onto the gaps and misalignments within globalization has particularly important implications for questions of labour exploitation now.


Victoria Hattam is Professor of Politics at The New School for Social Research and currently a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Bristol with MMB. She received her PhD in Political Science from MIT. Hattam works in three research areas: US-Mexico border politics, design and production in the global economy, and visual and spatial politics. She is a member of the Multiple Mobilities Research Cluster. In 2018-19, Hattam co-directed the Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar on Imagined Mobilities with Miriam Ticktin, Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby, and Alex Aleinikoff. In 2020-21, Hattam was a faculty fellow at the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought at The New School. She has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

This lecture is organised by the School for Politics, Sociology and International Studies (SPAIS) at the University of Bristol and co-sponsored by MMB.

To reserve your place at the lecture please register on the Eventbrite page here.


Location and accessibly

The lecture will be held in Lecture Theatre 2D3, University of Bristol, Priory Road Complex,12 Priory Rd, Bristol BS8 1TU, and will be followed by a drinks reception at the venue.

If you have any accessibility requirements, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the SPAIS Research Admin team at spais-researchadmin@bristol.ac.uk.

Here is access information about the building from AccessAble.

Please note, this event is open to University of Bristol Staff and Students and the general public.


Wednesday 6 March
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm


Lecture Theatre 2D3
Priory Road Complex, Priory Road
Bristol, BS8 1TU United Kingdom
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