Volume 53, Issue 4 July 2021

This issue of Antipode coincides with the first anniversary of the racist murder of George Floyd and the attendant global protests that marked Floyd’s death. A key moment in these protests in the UK was the dumping of the statue of the Bristol slave trader Edward Colston in the city’s harbour. Four of the protesters who were involved are still facing trial for this powerful act. The long histories of racialised oppression are central to Inwood et al.’s paper here which uses a historical analysis of Lehman Brothers’ beginnings in a dry goods store in Montgomery, Alabama, to insist that claims to reparation are necessarily about both the past and the present. Making a compelling case that such small business operators pioneered forms of racial capitalism that foreshadow the contemporary financial landscape, they position a “geography of reparations” as a multifaceted organising strategy.

Such concerns resonate across many of the papers in this issue which build on Antipode’s long-standing commitment to engaging with the multiple forms and articulations of protest, resistance, and solidarity. Kallianos and Fumanti usefully challenge some of the binary framing of recent debates on the political in geography and beyond, by positioning insurrectionary moments in relation, rather than as counterposed, to what are often perceived as more “ordinary” forms of political activity. Wolfe develops insightful engagements with the terms on which bloggers are using virtual spaces as crucial sites in the opposition to Putin’s reactionary regime in Russia. Other work contributes to emerging debates on migrant solidarity and politics. Fischer and Jørgensen’s paper engages with the differentiated forms of migrant solidarity shaped in Athens and Hamburg, using a comparative perspective to highlight important differences in the ways solidarities were articulated in the two cities.

In related terms Lafazani dramatises the experience of Afghan migrants in Athens in a paper which vividly follows the intersections of the colourline and the borderline. Lafazani’s paper is one of a number here which engage with the lived experience of contemporary cities. Ergenç and Çelik’s engagement with urban neighbourhood forums in Ankara mobilises an approach based on urban commoning to explore how these spaces were part of the creation of long-lasting experiences of local politics and self-governance. Cotoi explores the trajectory of Văcăreşti Park, an urban nature park in Bucharest, drawing out key articulations of environmental and social relations under socialist and post-socialist conditions. Through a discussion of rent, power relations, and processes of studentification in Waterloo, Ontario, Revington explores the ways in which the city is “generationed”, serving to reproduce capitalist urbanisation.

Another set of papers trace the work different materialities do in relation to contested forms of environmental and social processes. Kumar explores different aspects of the politics of coal in Tamil Nadu, exploring the ways in which proposed new coal-fired power plants have been contested by different marginal groups such as fisher folk. Dawson traces the importance of sand to the contemporary city through a detailed excavation of its centrality to the urban formation of Accra, making a broader plea to integrate geological formations more directly in urban political ecology. In McGregor et al.’s paper, the biopolitical strategies that are being used to attempt to lower the methane emissions of cattle are analysed to highlight some of the tensions of global climate governmentality.

A final set of papers engage with questions around theoretical and methodological approaches to marginality and uneven development. Atia and Doherty draw on research in Morocco which combined work on relationality and critical cartography to explore the possibilities of relational forms of research practice. The lived experiences of poverty are highlighted by Denning in her account of the affective dimensions of the use of foodbanks, which has soared as a result of the UK’s punitive austerity programme. Mezzadri argues for the importance of fostering inclusive ways of theorising value that challenge productivist accounts which relegate women and other subaltern groups, and that can shape new articulations of solidarity and struggle. Through a careful mobilisation of theories of uneven and combined development, Omstedt argues for the importance of provincialising the United States as a capitalist formation. In the context of the current political conjuncture his challenge to universalising discourses of US capital is important, and like Mezzadri’s paper offers different possible ways in which solidarities and resistances can be articulated. Such an approach also offers resources for scrutinising the different entrenched geographies of privilege that buttress forms of white supremacy.

We hope, just over a year after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, that such resources will help fuel the ongoing radical reflection, generative thinking, and transformative politics necessary for building better days to come.

The Antipode Editorial Collective, July 2021

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