Donut Time: Refugee Place-Making in 24/7 Afterwar


By analyzing Duffin’s Donuts in East Vancouver as a temporal-spatial landscape of afterwar, we suggest that refugee place-making entails racial taste-making—the labour and pleasures involved in producing sensorial, culinary, and aesthetic tastes that constitute the everyday experiences of imperial haunting. We argue that the donut shop’s 24/7 temporality indexes such a haunting: On the one hand, it marks the long duration and unrelenting conditions of labour exploitation under racial capitalism and transpacific imperialism, and, on the other, it fragments and suspends the linear chronology of multicultural inclusion and capitalist success. We conduct a close reading of the restaurant’s spatial aesthetics, signage, and menu in order to consider how the readymade—as a genre of art objects and as instant meals—traces lineages of transpacific imperialism and makes apparent the limits of neoliberalism’s promises of seamless production. We situate the intersection at Knight Street and 41st Avenue within the global circuits of supply chain capitalism. In doing so, we tell an alternative story of the Cambodian donut shop—one in which Duffin's serves as a hinge that links East Vancouver to larger, ongoing projects of just-in-time Empire, and allows us to see the possible survival strategies of, and opportunities for solidarities through, refugee place-making.

This article “Donut Time: Refugee Place-Making in 24/7 Afterwar” originally appeared in Canadian Literature: 246 Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War (2021): 15-39.

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