Nomadic Contagions and the Performance of Infrastructure in Dale Farm's Post-eviction Scene

Book chapter


Mccarthy, L. 2019. Nomadic Contagions and the Performance of Infrastructure in Dale Farm's Post-eviction Scene. in: Walsh, Fintan (ed.) Theatres of Contagion: Transmitting Early Modern to Contemporary Performance Methuen Drama. pp. 136–152
AuthorsMccarthy, L.
EditorsWalsh, Fintan
Abstract

The state dismantlement of an unauthorized Irish Traveller settlement at Dale Farm, Essex in 2011 showed how nomadic infrastructures are made to disappear. Thereafter, local authorities substituted the residential foundations of Dale Farm with an alternative form of ‘invisible’ infrastructure whereby the razed soil at Dale Farm, the very property of the ex-residents, was discretely made to behave against them. This paper considers a structure used in environmental planning for the prevention of chemical and toxic waste. The structure is called ‘bunding’ and its only other application beyond industrial waste sites is in Traveller sites. Technically it is used to stop the spread of pollutants from exposed topographies, but I argue that it is ideologically used as an infrastructure to prohibit Traveller practices—bunding is constructed as a defence wall composed of mounds of earth that prevent Travellers from re-entering their lands after eviction—while also exposing them in a more insidious way to the contaminants that collect in these enclosed landscapes. Filled by storm water, the bund-walled areas of Dale Farm floated open sewage and asbestos. These and other municipal infrastructures are routinely encountered by nomads while they are in transit or in situ and are perceived by Travellers as deliberately composed of obstructive materials, for instance, the common use of boulders strewn across marginal public land act as a deterrent against halting. Conversely, within a sedentarist scene-scape these topographies feature as accidentally discarded material, but to Travellers such obvious techniques of obstruction detain life and vitiate against their social reproduction. I argue that by embedding the logic of containment and contamination as a rationality of governance over the Travellers, the state shows their regard for this community as sub-nationals with the potential to pollute or infect the sedentarist population.

Book titleTheatres of Contagion: Transmitting Early Modern to Contemporary Performance
Page range136–152
Year2019
PublisherMethuen Drama
Publication dates
Print05 Sep 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Feb 2019
Accepted20 Jun 2018
SeriesMethuen Drama Engage
ISBN9781350086005
9781350085985
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.5040/9781350086012.ch-009
Web address (URL)https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/theatres-of-contagion-9781350085985/
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