Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Paisley Currah

Committee Members

Leonard Feldman

Herman Bennett

Subject Categories

Aesthetics | Epistemology | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Latin American History | Other American Studies | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Political Theory | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Science and Technology Studies | Social Justice


Colombia; Feminist Studies; Settler Colonial Studies; Capitalism; Critical Geography; Decolonizing Epistemologies


This dissertation considers how the temporal remains of the Age of Discovery and its doctrine persist in a racial-geographical ranking of human and non-human, terrestrial and planetary life and worth. Across this work, I interpret a series of historical moments and their objects of speculative geographic cultural production: a state mapping program, a painting, a biomedical project, a de-monumenting protest action. As repositories of codified belief and repertoires of Discovery’s political and affective modes of racialized domination, I read these materials from the Colombian archives of coloniality and liberalism to illuminate their implications for Colombia’s national becoming as a liberal settler colonial state. I argue that Colombia has been shaped by processes of envisioning that collapse the present with the past of 1492: the arbiters of political and scientific national becoming extend the demographic catastrophe of Discovery well beyond the “event” of 1492, into the structure of liberal governance itself. What I call “the speculative geographic” is therefore a means through which colonial fantasy is projected onto the racialized space and place of the colonized other as a site of potency, of rendering earth into world. The future itself becomes a land subject to property regimes while being contingent on the relations established with and through land as property. As black and indigenous communities in Colombia insist that the country is post-Peace Accords, but not post-conflict, I ask, in what ways has the question of “Colombia’s future” always been of a dispossessive and extractivist order, a settler colonial regime relying on anti-blackness and anti-indigeneity, and requiring ongoing violence against vulnerable populations in order to clear land for the accumulation of wealth and power? How do historical affinities coalesce in the import of western European scientific knowledge, subject formations, and technology oriented through speculative fabulations of settler futurity and New World desires for an infinite accumulation of wealth and power?