Slow Disturbance

Infrastructural Mediation on the Settler Colonial Resource Frontier

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 102 illustrations Published: April 2021

Author: Rafico Ruiz

Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Media Studies > Media Technologies

From the late nineteenth through most of the twentieth century, the evangelical Protestant Grenfell Mission in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, created a network of hospitals, schools, orphanages, stores, and industries with the goal of bringing health and organized society to settler fisherfolk and Indigenous populations. This infrastructure also served to support resource extraction of fisheries off Labrador's coast. In Slow Disturbance Rafico Ruiz engages with the Grenfell Mission to theorize how settler colonialism establishes itself through what he calls infrastructural mediation—the ways in which colonial lifeworlds, subjectivities, and affects come into being through the creation and maintenance of infrastructures. Drawing on archival documents, maps, interviews with municipal officials, teachers, and residents, as well as his field photography, Ruiz shows how the mission's infrastructural mediation—from its attempts to restructure the local economy to the aerial surveying and mapping of the coastline—responded to the colony's environmental conditions in ways that expanded the bounds of the settler frontier. By tracing the mission's history and the mechanisms that enabled its functioning, Ruiz complicates understandings of mediation and infrastructure while expanding current debates surrounding settler colonialism and extractive capitalism.


“At this moment of reckoning, where histories of colonial violence and their afterlives in economies of extractivism are at the center of struggle, Slow Disturbance offers a powerful and nuanced account of the infrastructural making of the resource frontier. A must-read for those invested in understanding and transforming settler colonial materialities and ecologies.” — Deborah Cowen, author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade

“Rafico Ruiz makes a critical contribution to media studies, settler colonial studies, and studies of infrastructure and the environment. A fantastic book.” — Nicole Starosielski, author of The Undersea Network


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Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Rafico Ruiz is currently the Associate Director of Research at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: First Fish, Then Mediation  1
The Way It Was, St. Anthony, 1959  28
1. The Plant  45
Slow Disturbance, "5 Canada"  78
2. Credit and Common Sense  79
The Way It Was, St. Anthony, 2011  111
3. Meta Incognita  120
Slow Disturbance, "Channel 12"  150
4. The Promise of Extraction  153
Slow Disturbance, "Samsung, High Speed Mechanism"  174
The Way It Was, St. Anthony, 1997  176
Notes  181
Bibliography  203
Index  217
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0850-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0798-2