Volume 53, Issue 2 March 2021

At the start of 2020, we wrote of our ambitions for Antipode, situating these within the journal as a “living archive” as well as within the Antipode project’s broader effort to struggle for a better world. Embracing antipodal scholar-activism, we emphasised our refusal to fall back on easy antipathies and crude reductionisms, noting the difficult intellectual work needed to make sense of our worlds. The last COVID-hit year has taught us many things, but that overriding sense of the need to eschew simplistic or one-sided interpretations, and of the need to grapple with complex articulations, has only been reinforced.

The papers in this issue are a testament to that difficult intellectual work, and they simultaneously capture the political commitments that make Antipode a unique project. We begin the issue with a symposium on undocumented migrant struggles. Each paper in the symposium teases out the ways in which such struggles disrupt but also reinforce dominant discourses around race and immigration. Its organisers, Thomas Swerts and Walter Nicholls, have brought together nine exceptional papers and empirical studies from the US, Greece, Germany and Belgium, shedding light on recent discussions of “the political” while also helping to reinterpret the complexities of undocumented migrant struggles.

In the same issue, we’re fortunate to be able to publish Teona Williams’ winning paper from the 2018 Clyde Woods Black Geographies Speciality Group Graduate Student Paper Award. Analysing shifting human-environment relations and their articulation with racial capitalism, Williams focuses on the “garrison state” created by the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. Engaging with literatures in both Black geographies and critical environmental justice, Williams’ approach permits a much deeper understanding of how environmental policies shape anti-Black spaces. Shifting to the London Borough of Hackney, Faith MacNeil Taylor’s paper analyses raced and generational dynamics that articulate with capitalist processes in shaping millennial experience and multi-generational cohabitation in the borough. Taylor pays particular attention to the affective labours involved in social reproduction. And in a Canadian context, Nicole Van Lier analyses the attempts by Canadian courts to resolve ongoing contradictions within the settler colonial and capitalist production of space. Md Azmeary Ferdoush’s paper on border enclaves between Bangladesh and India demonstrates how, while lacking formal rights prior to 2015, citizens of enclaves now part of Bangladeshi territory have come to possess unique privileges exceeding those of other citizens. Rather than this being the intervention of a caring sovereign, Ferdoush attributes such a shift to a process of “sovereign atonement”. In Brent Kaup’s paper, a similar attention to spatial relations sheds light on the rural/urban dynamics shaping uneven exposure to Zika in Brazil. Drawing on both political ecological readings of metabolism and sociological interpretations of the metabolic rift, he generates new understandings of the political ecologies of disease through a method of incorporated comparison. Developing a similar method inspired by Gill Hart’s “open dialectics”, James Angel explores the contradictions within Barcelona en Comú’s efforts to remunicipalise energy production and distribution. While often framed as a hopeful example of a successful Left project, Angel develops an open dialectics of the state in order to point to both the obstacles in the way of energy democracy and also more optimistic ways forward.

Angel’s paper – as with each of the others in the issue – is a pertinent reminder of what Les Back referred to in the previous issue as “Hope’s Work”. Writing against both blind pessimism and naïve optimism, Back writes that “worldly radical hope … is an attention to the present and the anticipation that something unexpected will happen and emerge from its ruins. Hope, then, is not a belief but an empirical question”. Each of the papers in this issue navigates this complex terrain and, in so doing, perhaps also provides something of a “navigation device” for the troubled future ahead.

The Antipode Editorial Collective, March 2021

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