Settler colonialism is apocalyptic (a good topic to end THIS year): Avery Slater, ‘Apocalyptic Commons: Derek Jarman’s The Last of England’, Transformations: Journal of Media & Culture, 28, 7, 2016

31Dec16

Abstract: This article investigates the critical interplay between utopian collectivity and post-industrial ruins as “apocalyptic commons” in Derek Jarman’s film The Last of England. This film’s Thatcher-era critique reveals global capitalism’s repressed yet intensified settler-colonial dimensions, portraying abandoned manufacturing sites intercut with nonlinear evocation of Britain’s imperial past. I argue that this film’s post-apocalyptic ruins perform an allegorical critique of settler colonialism by linking economic histories of imperialism and the “closing of the commons” to the neoliberal present. In this film, Jarman extends the utopian promise of the commons toward an equally radical potential inhering in the dystopian commons. These dystopian commons work to reopen a futurity, staging the alleged aftermath of historic crisis as already present-tense. Jarman’s apocalyptic commons reflect unsolved legacies of neoliberal capital, liberal imperialism, early modern financialization, and post-Fordism. The Last of England navigates a global landscape where property-relations are liquefied, engendering ad hoc assemblages of survival. Centered in ruins of metropolitan industry, Jarman’s film widens the imagination of global annihilation –nuclear, epidemic, neoimperial – while raising specters of earlier, colonial annihilations. In The Last of England, pyrrhic potentials bind together a collectivity of aftermath within a dystopian commons uncannily recognizable as the horizon of the neoliberal present-day.



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