We start the new year looking back to 2013 and the Antipode RGS-IBG Lecture. Presented in London by Bruce Braun (University of Minnesota) ‘New Materialisms and Neoliberal Natures’ was recorded by our publisher, Wiley, and can be watched online. Bruce developed the lecture into a paper for the journal, which is available here, and we pulled a good number of papers from the archives to produce a virtual issue exploring Bruce’s work and the work of his interlocutors and fellow travellers on materialist social theory, the production of nature, neoliberal natures, environmental justice, climate change, capitalist conservation, and much besides.
Speaking of conservation, next we have Evangelia Apostolopoulou and Bill Adams’ (University of Cambridge) Neoliberal Capitalism and Conservation in the Post-crisis Era: The Dialectics of ‘Green’ and ‘Un-green’ Grabbing in Greece and the UK, which examines the roll back of conservation regulation, market-based approaches to ‘saving’ nature, and the privatization of public nature assets.
There’s more on post-crisis landscapes in Michael Byrne and Patrick Bresnihan (The Provisional University) Escape into the City: Everyday Practices of Commoning and the Production of Urban Space in Dublin, which explores experiments in urban commoning (that is, the creative ways in which different groups are struggling to escape the various enclosures of the city) . . .
. . . and more on ‘green grabbing’ in Connor Cavanagh (Norwegian University of Life Sciences) and David Himmelfarb (University of Georgia)’s “Much in Blood and Money”: Necropolitical Ecology on the Margins of the Uganda Protectorate, which traces the historical geography of accumulation by dispossession in the name of environmental protection, and its role in state formation and territorialisation.
In the first of two papers on India, Sentimental Capitalism in Contemporary India: Art, Heritage, and Development in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Dia Da Costa (Queen’s University) critques the discourse of the creative economy and associated practices of development, arguing that in the remaking of urban places art and heritage mobilise sentiments while obscuring the violence of displacement, exploitation and inequality.
The second paper, The Politics of Open Defecation: Informality, Body, and Infrastructure in Mumbai, sees Renu Desai, Colin McFarlane and Steve Graham focus on the profoundly unequal opportunities for fulfilling bodily needs in the contemporary city, examining how open defecation emerges in informal settlements by tracing the micropolitics of sanitation infrastructures, everyday routines, and embodied experiences and perceptions.
Dawn Hoogeveen (University of British Columbia) takes us underground in Sub-surface Property, Free-entry Mineral Staking, and Settler Colonialism in Canada, exploring mineral rights and claim staking in northern Canada, with a focus on settler colonialism and how liberal understandings of property are embedded in the legal geography of the right to explore for minerals.
British Jobs for British Workers? Negotiating Work, Nation, and Globalisation through the Lindsey Oil Refinery Disputes by Anthony Ince, David Featherstone, Andrew Cumbers, Danny MacKinnon and Kendra Strauss–featured in our latest virtual issue–is a great contribution to labour geography, focusing on a ‘contentious’ struggle, the kind that we mightn’t wish to fully support, the kind that hasn’t received much critical engagement thus far from labour geographers.
Workers make their own geography, but not in conditions of their making, in Industrial District and the Multiplication of Labour: The Chinese Apparel Industry in Prato, Italy by Tu Lan (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), which looks at the ‘proliferation of borders’–a process involving a cast of immigration policies, social norms, trade unions, and local and regional specificities.
Shiri Pasternak’s (Columbia University) How Capitalism Will Save Colonialism: The Privatization of Reserve Lands in Canada takes us back to Canada, and the complex tensions and alliances between state, non-state, and local Indigenous interests forming around land ‘modernisation’ agendas.
Verónica Perera’s (National University of Avellaneda) Engaged Universals and Community Economies: The (Human) Right to Water in Colombia analyses a similarly complicated situation in which activists engage the rights discourse while promoting place-based, not-for-profit, culturally-attuned, and valid alternatives to a corporate model of water supply.
We close this issue with three papers on the city. Governing the Commercial Streets of the City: New Terrains of Disinvestment and Gentrification in Toronto’s Inner Suburbs by Katharine Rankin and Heather McLean (University of Toronto) explores the shopping street as a site of racialized class struggle, tackling issues of gentrification through collaborative research.
Disparity Despite Diversity: Social Injustice in New York City’s Urban Agriculture System by Kristin Reynolds (The New School) contends that, despite its positive impacts, urban agriculture may reinforce some of the inequities that its supporters aim to address, focusing on race- and class-based disparities among practitioners.
And finally “This is how I want to live my life”: An Experiment in Prefigurative Feminist Organizing for a More Equitable and Inclusive City by Janet Siltanen, Fran Klodawsky and Caroline Andrew uses an experiment with city-based feminist organising to explore how one might work with the local state while simultaneously challenging and disrupting understandings and practices that marginalise women’s needs, contributions and concerns.