Volume 52, Issue 3 May 2020

This issue went to print as COVID-19 and its consequences began to grip the world (see Antipode’s statement on the pandemic’s impacts on editorial practices here). Although written before the pandemic, the essays in this issue highlight the varied geographies and political-economic infrastructures that are now becoming ever more visible and painful, but also the activism and social movements that might give us hope and inspiration.

The issue opens with a symposium on the “Social Life of Robots” edited by Del Casino, House-Peters, Crampton and Gerhardt, whose introductory essay frames the symposium’s themes and interventions. Building on the “digital turn” in geography, the papers in this symposium explore the human and more-than-human subjectivities emerging within a social world ever more reliant on algorithms, robotics, and digital technologies. Richardson’s essay examines the impact of food delivery systems such as Deliveroo and UberEats on markets and labour relations in the UK, while Lockhart and Marvin’s paper analyses the creation of controlled indoor environments as a strategy of urban regeneration in Sheffield. While these papers focus on how robotic technologies enable the expansion of capitalism, two additional papers explore the digital structures of activism and alternative economies. Lynch examines the post-capitalist alternatives emerging through Barcelona’s Technological Sovereignty movement, while Gerhardt explores the trans-local anarchist politics of the digitally enabled peer‐to‐peer economy and Collaborative Commons. Collectively, the symposium’s papers illustrate how robotic technologies extend capitalism’s reach, but they also highlight the crucial roles of unruly subjects – human and non-human – in challenging those processes.

Following the symposium, several papers evince a shared interest in deepening key elements of Marxist theory in relationship to gender, reproduction, migration, and regional planning. Pusceddu traces the articulation of “grassroots ecologies of value” by women activists in southern Italy, who transformed the framing of economic and environmental conflicts by revaluing the conditions necessary for a life worth living – a shift from production to reproduction. Clare’s paper analyses the complex experiences of Bolivian migrants labouring in Buenos Aires’s textile workshops in order to spatialise the idea of the “multiplication of labour”. And Holgersen’s paper suggests ways that urban and regional planners might return to the field’s deep engagement with Marxism in the 1970s in ways that respond more fully to contemporary crises of neoliberalism and climate change.

Another cluster of papers examines the complexities of land-use development through finance, taxation, construction, and governance. Tapp’s paper provides a detailed history of the real-estate tax credit in the United States, showing how financial institutions have become dependent on tax credits as an accumulation strategy enabled by the state. Through ethnographic analysis of family-owned construction firms in Spain and Greece, Vetta and Palomera demonstrate that increased financialization of this already-turbulent industry has led to even wider labour inequalities and the extension of rent-making logics into the sphere of production. Chung’s paper, which examines the EcoEnergy Sugar Project in coastal Tanzania, focuses on the “liminal” stage of major land-grab deals – the long delay period between land acquisition and dispossession – to show how gendered forms of governance can take multiple forms in contexts of international development.

Several papers center the Black radical tradition of critique in their analyses of evolving colonial logics and decolonial praxis. Kimari and Ernstson’s paper argues that contemporary infrastructure projects in East Africa inherit and extend racialized legacies of colonialism in ostensibly postcolonial states, even when financed through south-south partnerships such as with China – a process they conceive as the “imperial invitations” enabled by “imperial remains”. Garba and Sorentino’s essay takes up the assumptions about land and metaphor embedded in Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Wang’s influential essay “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor” to protest the ways in which Blackness is marginalized in settler colonial theory; they mobilize a longer, global history of slavery to insist on the simultaneously material and metaphoric conditions of conquest, recognition of which asks us to grapple with the racial asymmetries of colonialism and decolonization.

The remaining two papers explore issues of long interest to Antipode readers: the production of differentiated space and the tensions and possibilities of activist movements. Focused on Amsterdam, Çankaya conceptualises “geopolicing” to account for how police officers produce racialised, gendered, and classed space through their labour to differentiate and discipline bodies. Examining a food sovereignty collective in northern Spain, Gordon suggests that prefigurative politics can be guided by both an envisioned future and an awareness of the closures and exclusions that such a vision produces, creating a particular temporal disposition toward politics that is necessarily unsettled and restless – an apt reminder for our struggles in the current moment.

The Antipode Editorial Collective, May 2020

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