Volume 53, Issue 3 May 2021

Just over a year ago, we published a message from the Editorial Collective. Titled “Antipode in the Time of Coronavirus”, it acknowledged our limited capacity, and that of our publishers, authors and referees, while reiterating our commitment to publishing the very best radical geographical research. “Muddling through, keeping the good ship Antipode afloat, is more important now than ever. We’re mindful of the pressures exerted on early-career researchers and those precariously employed, and we’re acutely aware of the need for uncompromising critical thought amidst the unfolding conjunctural crisis, so we struggle on.” A longer term crisis has come together with a more recent one, and our partners in publishing have done sterling work in trying times, producing, writing and reading the journal content that reckons with it. We’re proud of the content below, and it’s thanks to the dedication of our colleagues and comrades. This is for them.

The issue opens with a symposium on the “Political Ecologies of Race” edited by Levi Van Sant, Richard Milligan, and Sharlene Mollett. Aiming to extend political ecology beyond the global South in ways that are not simply additive, the symposium’s eight papers engage insights from settler colonial studies, critical Indigenous studies, and theories of racial capitalism to examine how racial-colonial politics unfold through nature and environmental practices in the United States and Canada.

Several symposium papers track the production of racial-colonial spatiality through evolving practices of enclosure, extraction, and infrastructure development. Levi Van Sant examines the US Cooperative Soil Survey in the early 20th century, arguing that the Survey enabled both agricultural modernisation and the exercise of white nationalist state power via its work to control territory and manage racialised populations. Andrew Curley’s paper, which analyses water settlements between state governments and tribal nations in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, shows how water governance functions as a technique of enclosure by transforming the nature of Indigenous water use to conform with the logics of quantification foundational to Western water law. Pavithra Vasudevan engages feminist theories of intimacy to document the multiple layers of toxicity that Black communities navigate in Badin, North Carolina’s now-shuttered aluminum company town – the impacts of which extend beyond the workplace to affect homes, children’s play areas, and sites of leisure, as well as Black workers’ wide-ranging affective responses.

Other symposium papers illuminate how white supremacy and settler colonialism are reproduced through what appear – superficially at least – to be “progressive” corporate initiatives, organizations, and governance processes. Melanie Sommerville’s study of One Earth Farms, a massive corporate farm located on First Nations’ farmland in Saskatoon, Canada, shows how the reparative claims of this “responsible” agricultural investment project articulated with the colonial politics of recognition by simultaneously “naturalising finance” (restoring capital under crisis) and “financialising Natives” (integrating First Nations farmland and labor into global financial flows). Tyler McCreary and Richard Milligan’s paper, which compares contemporary environmental justice governance procedures in Vancouver and Atlanta, argues that institutionalized recognition functions more to elide than to disrupt or redress the environmental hazards faced by First Nations and Black communities, in part because municipal governance tends to be ahistorical and to take current spatial configurations as given.

Three more symposium papers probe the complexities and limitations of multiracial and place-based environmental alliances. Kai Bosworth shows that populist alliances between white settlers and Native nations sometimes helped to stall pipelines, but also provided a forum in which settlers articulated their simultaneously economic and psychosomatic desires for the protection of private landed property. Erin Goodling studies the Portland Harbor Community Coalition, a grassroots coalition that formed in response to the superficial public engagement strategies implemented after Portland’s harbor was designated a Superfund site in 2000; her research suggests that intentional work to produce a shared subaltern history among Black, Native, houseless, and other vulnerable people is essential to redress racialized dispossession and displacement. Willie Jamaal Wright’s paper links police and vigilante murders of Black people with the sites of toxicity that have been the traditional targets of environmental justice, in order to call for a more expansive analysis of where Black people remain subject to gratuitous violence and death, and looking to the creative work of Black artists including Billie Holiday, Robert Hayden, James Baldwin, and Frank B. Wilderson III for spatial guidance.

Finally, Sharlene Mollett’s afterword reconnects the symposium with political ecology scholarship and critique emanating from Latin America, including her own research in Honduras, to support her arguments that the political ecologies of race are hemispheric, that race and coloniality condition the lives of Indigenous and Black people relationally, and that intersectional forms of power shaping land and land control are profoundly material and embodied. Though not formally part of the symposium, Justin Dunnavant’s paper later in the issue shares similar commitments. Engaging Saidiya Hartman’s methodology of “critical fabulation”, Dunnavant maps historic ocean currents and speculates on the utility of enslaved Africans’ oceanic literacy and marine skills as they navigated routes of passage toward freedom, principally from St. Croix to Puerto Rico.

The issue’s remaining papers examine themes that have long been of interest to Antipode’s readership – namely, processes of global economic restructuring and efforts by workers, cooperatives, and social movements to organize for autonomy and dignity within those structures. Elia Apostolopoulou examines the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on urban inequality in London, Athens, and Colombo, arguing that the BRI signals the emergence of an “infrastructure-led, authoritarian neoliberal urbanism” that is remaking deindustrialized, working-class urban districts around the world. Ryan Stock looks at the informal and marginalized laborers working in the most precarious nodes of solar energy development (mining, generation, and disposal), who constitute the essential labor force enabling decarbonization but absorb extraordinary toxicity and health risks. The last two papers further emphasize how such processes are experienced and resisted by vulnerable people at the local and regional scales. Joshua Levy’s illustrates the uneven landscapes of policing, surveillance, and criminalization that houseless people experience in two distinct Stockholm neighborhoods, arguing for the significant agency that police exercise, as “street-level bureaucrats”, in upholding legal ideologies of pedestrianism. Finally, in their study of FairCoop, a commoning experiment with multiple nodes across Southern Europe, Sam Dallyn and Fabian Frenzel offer design principles that may help commons striving for postcapitalism in a still-capitalist world to achieve greater sustainability, particularly as they try to scale up.

The Antipode Editorial Collective, May 2021

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