Volume 53, Issue 1 January 2021

Welcome to the 53rd volume of Antipode. The editors, together with the journal’s inimitable editorial manager, Andy Kent, continue to advance the journal’s mission under “covid conditions”. Les Back’s 2019 Antipode Lecture titled “Hope’s Work”, delivered at the RGS-IBG annual conference and leading the Issue, reads as a prescient intervention into our current moment. Back offers readers an account of worldly radical hope as a necessity for a radical politics of the everyday, one that rejects progress fairytales and despondent doom in equal measure. His lecture vividly recounts “hope’s work” in the silent walk protests against government indifference to the Grenfell Tower fire and the creation of a multi-racial and multi-generational progressive community space for low-income workers in London. The Issue continues with a Symposium edited by Nik Heynen and Megan Ybarra titled “On Abolition Ecologies and Making ‘Freedom as a Place’”. The Symposium builds on the groundbreaking work of Ruth Wilson Gilmore on abolition geography in conversation with the Black Radical Tradition, especially W.E.B. Du Bois’ concept of abolition democracy, together with Black geographies and Indigenous decolonial epistemologies of land. In their introduction, Heynen and Ybarra offer reflections towards a political ecology that centers the practices of place-making of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other racialized “conscripts of modernity” (after David Scott). The five papers in the Symposium work through place-making strategies over different time scales in US settler colonial contexts. Ybarra and David Pellow explore the powerful intersections between abolitionist activism against immigrant detention (Ybarra) and prisons (Pellow) and environmental justice struggles. Laurel Mei-Singh explores the place-making practices of indigenous Hawaiians and solidarity with non-indigenous accompaniers to create a self-governing community in the shadow of a sprawling US military base. The reader can draw vivid counter-topographies from Hawai’i to Black place-making over more than two centuries by self-emancipated slaves and their descendants on Sapelo Island, off the coast of Georgia. Heynen offers this account as the on-going project of transforming plantation lands into commons, and, like Mei-Singh, centers the limits of critical research across multiple hierarchies of difference and knowledge. Finally, Malini Ranganathan and Eve Bratman consider resilience through an abolitionist lens. Their intervention contributes critical tools for the broader effort to dispel climate-change reductionism in order to foreground a radical politics of transformation.

Two more contributions to this Antipode Issue, while not in the Symposium, speak to its themes while pushing the edges of the radical geography archive into new terrain. Elleza Kelley contributes to the journal’s efforts to advance Black geographies by forging meaningful dialogues with Black studies, a project inspired and stewarded by former Antipode editor and renowned scholar Katherine McKittrick. Kelley invites geographers to consider how Toni Morrison’s novels can inform our understanding of “black spatial practice”, a critical cartography centered on post-emancipation practices of place-making shaped by – and also exceeding – white supremacy. Christen Smith, Archie Davies and Bethânia Gomes offer a special collection of work by the influential Black Brazilian thinker and activist Beatriz Nascimento, available for the first time in English. Amongst her contributions outlined by Smith et al. in their introduction, Nascimento advances the understanding of quilombos, or maroon communities, as “an organic Black political model for liberation that is not solely located in the long historical past of slavery but evolved through time … as living practice”. The two translated essays and two poems offer additional resources for English-speaking readers to engage with Brazilian Black spatial practice including its significance to struggles against dictatorship.

The regular papers that round out our first issue of 2021 are as insightful as they are wide-ranging in theoretical commitments and locations of research. Based on research with domestic violence police units in Pennsylvania, USA, Dana Cuomo offers an analysis of policing in the private sphere that positions police officers as mediators of abusive relationships in the breach created by the rollback of social welfare services. Heather McLean’s praxis-oriented research at a social enterprise in Glasgow, Scotland, challenges the dismissal of such endeavors by critics as neoliberal traps, echoing the ethos of Back’s “worldly hope”. McLean offers a clear-eyed account of the everyday possibilities forged by working class, racialized and LGBTQI+ activists to navigate neoliberal pitfalls in order to forge “spaces for feminist commoning”. Larrington-Spencer and co-authors draw on ethnographic work with older Chinese residents in a public housing community in downtown Shanghai to offer an intimate account of housing protests that emerge in and through spaces at the public-private boundary, lowering the risk of repression while still registering dissent. Elisa Pascucci adds to the growing field of critical logistics through a study of the IKEA Foundation’s prize-winning “Better Shelter”. Pascucci demonstrates how logistics rationales influence the wide circulation of these flat-packed shelters, which in turn shape the biopolitics and political economy of humanitarian aid. Friend and Hutanuwatr encourage readers to think ecologically about one of radical geography’s signature concepts, the spatial fix. Exploring the siting of a Thai airport on flood-prone swamp land, they argue that such hazard spaces are not solely the burden of the poor and marginalized, but rather have fast become key sites to resolve capital’s overaccumulation crises. Finally, Kumar and Aiken mobilize postcolonial theory to unpack the largely under-theorized notion of community at the heart of community renewable energy projects. Drawing on insights from long-term research in Scotland and Bihar, India, the authors argue for a shift in the predominant notion of community towards one of emergent solidarities in order to analyze how energy projects contribute to or undermine communities based on such ties.

We thank our authors for their contributions, and our reviewers for their continued support during these trying times.

The Antipode Editorial Collective, January 2021

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