As part of No Reading After the Internet, I am excited to have FUSE Magazine as co-presenters for the November salon. Our agenda for the evening will be to consider the current Occupy _____ movements in relation to colonial dynamics in Canada. In the prelude to this event, I have been reading voraciously about the events in New York City and the movement’s spread across America, into Canada and elsewhere. It has been raised, again and again, that these lands are already occupied, that Canada and America both are settler states. However, the sense of occupation invoked by this history is distinct from the occupation invoked by protestors on Wall Street. In “Occupy Wall Street to a global intifada?” Helga Tawil-Souri astutely unpacks the many equivocations of occupy, which not only relate colonialism to capitalism, but play off the notion of occupation as labour and occupation as presence.
Occupy Wall Street and the broader Occupy _____ movements are occupations “by the people of the material and symbolic centre of corporate power… [where] to occupy is meant to reclaim the street as a project of spatial justice, but also, and more poignantly, as an economic, political, and symbolic project.” Through the lens of her Palestinian identity, Tawil-Souri contrasts this to occupation as “a violent, exploitative affair. It is a spatial, political and economic manifestation of power imbalances. In its Israeli form, occupation is an expression of military power, of colonial settlement, of seizing land and streets by force…occupation today is about the bureaucratic, administrative, and hi-tech means of attempting to keep a people subjugated while continuing their territorial dispossession.”
As a careful etymologist, Tawil-Souri suggests that, “what the people [are] doing on the streets [in New York City] [is] not occupation, but its opposite: Resistance.”
There are solidarities to be made.