Radical Geography in the Interwar Period: Disciplinary Trajectories and Hidden Histories – CFP RGS-IBG 2013

An interesting call for papers from Alex Vasudevan’s blog, Experimental Geographies. The history of radical geography – perhaps unsurprisingly – is something we’re really interested in here at Antipode – indeed, one of the Regional Workshop Awards the Antipode Foundation made last year was to support Trevor Barnes and Eric Sheppard’s ‘A history of radical and critical geography’, a one-and-a-half day workshop to develop the framework for a multi-year research project developing a systematic, comprehensive, and international history of our discipline. Here’s Alex’s CFP…

I am organising a session at the forthcoming RGS/IBG annual conference in London (August 28-30, 2013). Details below:

Radical Geography in the Interwar Period: Disciplinary Trajectories and Hidden Histories

Sponsored by Historical Geography Research Group

Organiser: Dr. Alex Vasudevan (School of Geography, University of Nottingham)

This session builds on a brief note published in the journal Area in 1975 by the geographer David Stoddart on the disciplinary origins of “relevant” geography. For Stoddart, a “tradition of social relevance” can, in fact, be traced back to the end of the 19th century and the work of Élisée Reclus and Peter Kropotkin whose commitment to geographical knowledge was shaped by the radical political imperatives of anarchism (188). According to Stoddart, the emergence of a radical geography in the late 1960s represented, if anything, the latest moment in the history of a “socially relevant geography” and that the very idea of “relevance” should delineate a new field of historical enquiry (190). Geographical scholarship has undoubtedly examined, in this respect, the importance of anarchism to the development of the discipline (Springer et al., 2012; see also Breitbart, 1975, 1978; Peet, 1975; Springer, 2011). The significance of the late 1960s and early 1970s to the emergence of a genuinely critical geography has, in turn, been extensively mapped (for just a few examples, see Akatiff, 2012; Barnes and Heynen, 2011; Peet, 1978; Watts, 2001). And yet, at the same time, the history of radical geography remains underdeveloped especially in the period between the late 19th century and the 1960s. This session seeks to address this historical blind spot. It places specific emphasis on the interwar period (1919-1939) as a significant moment through which a radical geographical imagination was indeed produced and practiced across a range of sites and institutions.

This session invites papers that address the diverse forms of radical geographical thought and practice produced during the 1920s and 1930s. While the session engages with the development of geography as an academic discipline, it is also animated by a concern for the hidden histories through which radical political terrains and possibilities are opened up and actively assembled (see Featherstone, 2012). The session will thus focus on papers that explore:

– Academic geography, national traditions and radical politics

– Subaltern geographies and the production of transnational political cultures

– The making of radical geographical practices: from material culture to alternative mapping

– The geographies of solidarity from the Russian Revolution to the Spanish Civil War

– Alternative archives, ‘small stories’ and the doing of geography

– Radical infrastructures, spatial practices and ‘world-making’

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to Alexander Vasudevan ([email protected] ) by February 4th, 2013.


Akatiff, C. “’Then, like now…’ The Roots of Radical Geography, a Personal Account” (www.antipodefoundation.org/2012/09/04/then-like-now-the-roots-of-radical-geography-a-personal-account/)

Barnes, T. and Heynen, N. “A Classic in Human Geography: William Bunge’s (1971) Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution.” Progress in Human Geography 35 (2011), pp. 712-715.

Breitbart, M. “Impressions of an Anarchist Landscape.” Antipode 7 (1975), pp. 44-49.

Breitbart, M. “Introduction.” Antipode 10 (1978), pp. 1-5.

Featherstone, D. Solidarity: Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism. London: Zed Books, 2012.

Peet, R. “For Kropotkin.” Antipode 7 (1975), pp. 42-43.

Peet, R. (ed). Radical Geography: Alternative Viewpoints on Contemporary Social Issues. London: Methuen & Co., 1978.

Springer, S. “Public Space as Emancipation: Meditations on Anarchism, Radical Democracy, Neoliberalism, and Violence.” Antipode 43: 525-562.

Springer, S. et al. “Reanimating Anarchist Geographies: A New Burst of Colour.” Antipode 44 (2012), pp. 1591-1604.

Stoddart, D. “Kropotkin, Reclus and ‘Relevant’ Geography.” Area 7 (1975), pp. 188-190.

Watts, M. “1968 and all that…” Progress in Human Geography 25 (2001), pp. 157-188.