Another East Bay Night: Occupy Wall Street, the Port of Oakland, and the Coloniality of Global Logistics
The November 2 and December 12, 2011 blockades of the Port of Oakland by the Occupy Wall Street movement represented radical and messy attempts to reconstitute public space beyond the reaches of neoliberal capitalism. In an attempt to draw attention to the predatory financial practices that circulated global capital through the Port of Oakland while ravaging working and middle class Oaklanders, the movement twice shut down port operations, first as the culmination of a general strike and later as one of several West Coast “Wall Street on the Waterfront” demonstrations. A critical geographic analysis of Occupy Oakland and the spatial paradigms in which they intervened reveals a persistent coloniality to the capital flows fixed briefly in the port each day, reflecting both the exploitative nature of globalized logistics and the production of colonial difference in North America at large and in Oakland specifically. While Occupy Oakland succeeded in momentarily visibilizing and disrupting the economic violence of the supply chain, its geographic imagination was constrained by a failure to engage with these underlying settler colonial dynamics. However, despite these shortcomings, the 2011 port shutdowns are also worth examining for their potential to act as a stepping stone toward more ambitious spatial agendas that can contend with the interlocking forces of neoliberalism and settler colonialism.
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