Restraint, Surveillance & Space: Spatio-historical perspectives on the operations of colonialism through technologies of control.

Mr Max Mitropoulos1, Ms Anna Carlson1

1University Of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia


What becomes visible when sets of technologies deployed throughout colonial occupation are thought of historically in terms of space? To examine this question, we draw upon our individual theoretical approaches developed in our PhD theses in order to provide a conceptual foundation for taking “spatio-historical perspectives” to the operations of colonialism through various technologies of control, such as surveillance, restraint, and so on. We propose that through addressing the function of a given set of technologies through space it is possible to render visible the way that colonialism produces, sustains, consolidates and transforms spaces of existence across time. The various ‘frontiers’ and compartments of space that Fanon evokes in his description of colonialism are made more explicit through this style of approach. It is here that the relationality and intersectionality of spaces of existence can begin to be more effectively grappled with both in and beyond the colonial setting. We propose that taking a spatio-historical perspective helps to widen the focus beyond localised sites of violence and subjugation of First Nations people, and gives a more comprehensive view of the entangled plural spatial existences that are produced and reproduced in the colonial context.


Max Mitropoulos is a descendent of the Kullilli people. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. He is based at UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. Max’s research interest is in interrogating the ordering of spatial existence within and beyond the colonial context with a particular focus on technology.

Anna is a radio producer, illustrator and researcher, currently based in Meanjin/Brisbane. She is an organiser of the Brisbane Free University, a co-producer of 4zzz (102.1fm) program Radio Reversal and a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. As a white settler woman, living on unceded Jagera country, her PhD research uses an intersectional, spatial standpoint approach to consider the function of surveillance as a tool of colonialism in Brisbane.

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