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Pre-Black Futures

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In this essay I look at the contemporary production of surplus life in liberal democracies, and how it manifests a new type of sovereign spatial power. This power operates through the capacity to exile individuals and populations who are defined—in advance—as risk failures. I investigate further the ways that these pre-known risk failures are determined through historical and geographical processes of racial formation, arguing that certain kinds of bodies have become vessels for concepts of risk formed in anticipation of an inevitable future. This “inevitable future” involves the formation of populations, which I term Pre-Black, who are projected as outside of the enabling web of pastoral power. Moreover, as a consequence of this pre-failure, individuals and populations can be forcefully and, more importantly, “justifiably” removed from commonly held spaces and resources in a contemporary liberal form of sovereign dispossession.

Keywords: Pre-Black; dispossession; future; risk; sovereign; surplus

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA;, Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2010


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