Video abstract – Mary Lawhon talks about 'Flows, Friction, and the Sociomaterial Metabolization of Alcohol'

We’re a forward-thinking bunch here at Antipode, having just finalised the contents of issue three of next year’s volume. Antipode 45:3 will contain a couple of great interventions – one from Joshua Inwood and Anne Bonds (‘On Racial Difference and Revolution’); another from Kathleen O’Reilly and Richa Dhanju (‘Human Subjects Research and the Ethics of Intervention: Life, Death, and Radical Geography in Practice’) – Lynn Staeheli’s excellent 2011 Antipode AAG lecture (‘Whose Responsibility Is It? Obligation, Citizenship, and Social Welfare’), and 12 papers ranging from climate justice in Copenhagen and post-Wall German filmmaking, through resistance in Mexico City and swine flu and anxiety, to environmental justice, participation, and white privilege and water provision in Civil War Spain…

Antipode, Volume 45, Number 3


On Racial Difference and Revolution by Joshua Inwood and Anne Bonds

Human Subjects Research and the Ethics of Intervention: Life, Death, and Radical Geography in Practice by Kathleen O’Reilly and Richa Dhanju

The 2011 Antipode AAG Lecture

Whose Responsibility Is It? Obligation, Citizenship, and Social Welfare by Lynn A. Staeheli


Articulating Climate Justice in Copenhagen: Antagonism, the Commons, and Solidarity by Paul Chatterton, David Featherstone and Paul Routledge

Territorial Appeals in Post-Wall German Filmmaking: The Case of Good Bye, Lenin! by Kimberly Coulter

Play for Protest, Protest for Play: Artisan and Vendors’ Resistance to Displacement in Mexico City by Veronica Crossa

The Politics of the Evicted: Redevelopment, Subjectivity, and Difference in Mumbai’s Slum Frontier by Sapana Doshi

Announcing Swine Flu and the Interpretation of Pandemic Anxiety by Jonathan Everts

‘Participation’, White Privilege, and Environmental Justice: Understanding Environmentalism among Hispanics in Toronto by Hilary Gibson-Wood and Sarah Wakefield

Servicing Customers in Revolutionary Times: The Experience of the Collectivised Barcelona Water Company during the Spanish Civil War by Santiago Gorostiza, Hug March and David Sauri

Flows, Friction, and the Sociomaterial Metabolization of Alcohol by Mary Lawhon

Many Chains to Break: The Multi-dimensional Concept of Slave Labour in Brazil by Siobhán McGrath

State Responses and Migrant Experiences with Human Smuggling: A Reality Check by Ilse van Liempt and Stephanie Sersli

Beyond Alternative: Exploring the Potential for Autonomous Food Spaces by Amanda DiVito Wilson

Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: Reading the Arab Revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg’s The Mass Strike by Sami Zemni, Brecht De Smet and Koenraad Bogaert

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Two of our authors, Sapana Doshi and Mary Lawhon, have recently prepared video abstracts introducing their papers and the projects of which they’re a part. Mary’s appears below, and we’ll post Sapana’s next week (it’s now available here).

Mary Lawhon is a post-doctoral researcher in the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities. An urban political ecologist, Mary combines natural and social sciences to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of the human-environment nexus in her work (which has appeared in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environment and Planning A and Progress in Human Geography, among other places – see here).

Her Antipode paper, ‘Flows, Friction, and the Sociomaterial Metabolization of Alcohol’, offers a novel lens through which to consider alcohol, viewing it as a sociomaterial hybrid. Studies of alcohol, Mary explains, typically focus on either its negative impacts on health and well-being or positive impacts on economic development, while policy debates focus on whether and how to control access. Using a case study of alcohol in Cape Town, her Antipode paper moves beyond these binaries to provide a more nuanced, grounded articulation of how alcohol flows and what inhibits its flow, and how these flows and encounters with friction shape sociability and harm in complex, indeterminate ways.

Examining the distribution of power and agency, limitations of state regulation, willingness of community members to act outside of and with little fear of the law, and the specificity of alcohol as a highly desirable commodity which easily flows around artificial barriers, Mary casts some much needed light on the relationships, power and the (in)efficacy of policy efforts, suggesting the need to refocus debates. And rather than providing specific policy recommendations, her paper argues that a better understanding of flows and frictions can move the focus from alcohol control to reducing alcohol related harm.