Colloquium Series: Kimberley D. McKinson, University of Georgia
The Metallurgical Metropolis: Excavating the Aesthetics and Politics of Insecurity in Urban Jamaica
Kimberley D. McKinson is a Post-Doctoral Research and Teaching Associate at the University of Georgia where she is affiliated with the College of Education and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute. Her scholarly interests are situated at the intersections of urban anthropology, security, material culture, critical black historiography and Caribbean and Africana studies. She has conducted anthropological fieldwork in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
In Kingston, Jamaica, a middle class residential architectural aesthetics defined by metal has emerged in response to the city's high crime rate and violence - stylized metal burglar bars protect windows, metal gates secure front yards, metal grills enclose verandahs and spiked metal fences surround the periphery of properties. In this talk, I argue that this stylized metal has come to mark Kingston's urban landscape as a security-scape, where security and insecurity and not simply spectacular violence, have come to be important organizing principles. I offer too, a material and historical reading of Kingston’s metal, one attentive to its properties and its attributes which I suggest opens up space for an imagination of Kingston as more than just a fortress city defined by enclosure and exclusion. Through attention to Kingston’s metal security artifacts and the stylized adkinkra patterns that decorate them, I suggest that the Caribbean security-scape must be studied as an archive of black memory and a site of cultural retention, one that gives us insight into forms of citizenship and belonging that predate the trans-Atlantic slave trade and continue to resonate in the cityscapes of the so-called New World.