Volume 54, Issue 2 March 2022

In his Svendborg Poems, Bertolt Brecht writes: “In the dark times/Will there be singing? There will be singing/Of the dark times.” The last two years (or perhaps two millennia) have indeed been dark, and the times have recently taken another turn for the worse. Yet there is still Antipode, ruthlessly critiquing the dark times. As we wrote two years ago, acknowledging the myriad pressures that the pandemic was placing on our authors, reviewers, and editorial team, “Muddling through, keeping the good ship Antipode afloat, is more important now than ever”. Indeed, “Antipode will serve as a venue for radical reflection, generative thinking, and transformative politics for the better days that we hope will come”. Volume 54, Issue 2 represents some of these collective efforts throughout the ongoing crises. More than simply muddling through, they are a brilliant demonstration of the hard work involved in interpreting and changing what Antonio Gramsci came to describe as “a great and terrible world”.

The issue opens with Soledad Álvarez Velasco’s analysis of the spatial impacts of “migrant disobedience”, a paper in which she challenges the portrayal of migrants as docile subjects, showing the ways in which their unruly actions unsettle nationalist readings of territoriality (early in the pandemic Velasco wrote a powerful Intervention for AntipodeOnline with Lucía Pérez Martínez, on Covid-19 and [im]mobility in the Americas, which further emphasises the urgency of such research). Álvaro Ramírez March’s paper also engages with literatures on the autonomy of migration to make sense of Europe’s “long summer of migration” in 2015. Through engaging with literatures on affect, March rethinks narratives of solidarity that emerged at the time. While both March and Velasco present some more hopeful reworkings of migrant precarity, Anna Wyss and Carolin Fischer remind us of the structural and cultural violence that migrants continue to face in Europe. Focusing on the twin cases of Switzerland and Germany, they demonstrate the ways in which labour market performance is now being used to frame the “deservingness” of claims for leave to remain.

Borders, bordering, and internationalisms come up in different ways in the papers of Federico Ferretti and Rachel Hughes and Maria Elander. The latter presents an important denaturalisation of scale, including the scale of the international, through the hybrid tribunal of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Ferretti, meanwhile, seeks to understand the decentring of the “Lettered City” through the engaged scholarship of Josué de Castro and the Centre International pour le Développement he established in Paris in the 1960s.

Ferretti’s paper is part of a broader engagement with radical geographies outside of the Anglophone world, as also seen in Smith, Davies and Gomes’ translations of Beatriz Nascimento’s work in Volume 53, Issue 1 of the journal. Nipesh Palat Narayanan’s paper embarks on a somewhat different interpretation of Southern theory. Learning from the quotidian practices of food-vending in Colombo and Delhi, Palat Narayanan aims to dislocate urban theory from its ongoing metropolitan lineages. Fulong Wu, Fangzhu Zhang and Yuqi Liu, similarly, seek to theorise from elsewhere by interpreting the changing process of urban redevelopment in China from demolition to micro- or in situ redevelopment. The authors therefore see a move beyond growth machine politics and a new state politics playing in relation to urban redevelopment. A radically different form of state intervention in urban politics is presented in Joe Penny’s paper, which analyses the growth of municipal housing companies and what might be referred to as “local state rentierism” in London. Paradoxically, temporary fixes to a housing crisis in the capital have led to the reproduction of the political economic conditions – austerity, and the pursuit of rents – that they were meant to solve.

Terra Graziani, Joel Montano, Ananya Roy and Pamela Stephens’ paper is another powerful intervention in the field of urban political economy. The authors present an astute analysis of how public nuisance law in Los Angeles has been used to transform private property into police outposts, thereby anticipating capital investment in “gang-controlled” neighbourhoods. Public nuisance law in Los Angeles produces and reproduces space and race within the city. Private property plays a very different role in Sarah Franzen and Lia Bascomb’s paper, which details how within the racialised property regimes of the Americas Black people have used ownership to gain political and economic power while simultaneously confronting placelessness. Andrew Deuchar’s work in slight contrast, views selfhood as emerging from non-waged labouring practices. His study of the skilled and unpaid labour of degree holders in North India – translating documents, filling-in online forms, and providing computing tuition – should be interpreted as both productive and reproductive labour, while simultaneously producing a masculine selfhood and reproducing the patriarchal relations of which these men are a part.

Building on longstanding engagements with Black feminist geographies in the journal, Carrie Chennault’s paper analyses the complex geographies shaping food activism within the US. Focusing on the intersection of food apartheid and a community donation gardening programme in Dubuque, Iowa, Chennault looks to deeper challenges to racial injustice within the US and beyond. Anthony Ince presents a further analysis of activist movements, this time Anti-Fascist Action, operating in the UK in the 1990s. Framing the work of Anti-Fascist Action as a territorial strategy, Ince helps to uncover the forms of political activism that operate beyond the state, providing potential lessons for organising against the far right in the present moment.

Very different territorial processes are at work in Irene Vélez-Torres, Katherine Gough, James Larrea-Mejía, Giulia Piccolino and Krisna Ruette-Orihuela’s detailed analysis of the peace process in Colombia from 2016 onwards. Framed as a “territorial peace” the process has been marked by forms of local participation; nevertheless, this participation is embedded within processes of neoliberalisation that generate new inequalities within the country. For Maros Krivy, urban interventions or critical spatial practices in Eastern European cities are shown to have been enrolled in processes of neoliberal urbanisation. By playing on notions of retro-utopian urbanism, artists and activists have served to marginalise socialist ideas thereby foreclosing possibilities for genuine transformation.

As ever, the issue is filled with both a sense of horror and hope with great and terrible worlds being presented in their myriad complexity. Whatever the next few years have in store, Antipode will continue to serve as a forum for such work, a lighthouse in these dark times.

The Antipode Editorial Collective, March 2022

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