Volume 54, Issue 3 May 2022

In true Antipodean fashion, the papers in this issue examine the contortions of late-stage global capitalism as well as its differentiated and violent impacts, yet they also evince the journal’s commitment to learn from revolutionary perspectives and spatial practices, both those with long histories and those now emerging.

Numerous papers offer nuanced ways of understanding capitalism’s evolving geographies and structures. Aiming to untangle the interscalar relations of resource extraction, Irarrázaval’s paper considers the transfer of natural gas rents from the national governments of Peru and Bolivia to subnational governments, which use the revenues to build local infrastructure; Irarrázaval argues that these transfers are a “critical mechanism by which global production networks make places for extraction”. Two papers focus on financialisation in relation to both centuries-old colonial histories and more recent neoliberal logics. In Kenya, Bernards shows, financial technologies such as the use of mobile phones for credit payments activate the imperial remains of settler-colonial agriculture programmess, while in Canada, according to August’s paper, neoliberal restructuring and retrenchment of the welfare state have made long-term care facilities a major investment product for financiers, resulting in higher mortality, rampant fraud, and the exploitation of healthcare workers, many of whom are immigrant women.

Reflecting radical geography’s longstanding interest in the urban scale, several papers examine how capitalism is remaking life in diverse global cities. In Belgrade and Naples, Rossi argues, it is not the lack of economic growth per se, but rather “fast growth”, especially via platform capitalism, that is creating an “existential risk” to these cities on the relative margins of global capitalism. Aiming to further develop oceanic thinking as one approach to urban theory from the global South, Cardoso’s paper documents the transfer of an urban development strategy first employed in Salvador de Bahia – gated communities for the middle-class – to Luanda, replenishing a South Atlantic complex originally formed through circuits of sugar and enslaved people.

Other papers remind us that the people most affected by urban redevelopment regimes persistently sustain socialist and feminist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist spatial imaginaries and practices. Florez, Baudelle and Hardouin examine 50 years of resistance by anti-globalisation activists to a proposed airport site near Nantes, France. They find that, through the work of occupying and inhabiting the site, activists constructed a world that, while differentiated, still accommodated a truly diverse group of participants. Gray’s paper develops the spatiality of the “class composition” concept associated with autonomous Marxism through his study of women-led urban movements in 1970s Italy, most of which focused on infrastructures of social reproduction. Basu’s paper mobilises Fidel Castro’s theorisation of the “Battle of Ideas” to examine socialist planning, cultural practices, and the creation of an international zone of peace in Caimanera, Cuba, just outside the Guantánamo military base. Focusing on Los Angeles, Dozier similarly tracks the sonic critiques, cooperative planning, and commoning practices that have emanated from that city’s houseless communities, arguing for the importance of a cultural politics of homelessness in urban geographic theory.

In a sobering reminder of the constant tension between the onslaught of capitalist development regimes and these subaltern forms of urban life and place-making, however, other papers probe the ways in which elites develop creative new mechanisms for containing critique and resistance. Studying the failed migrant-led wildcat strikes that erupted in West Germany in 1973, Kleinheisterkamp González documents how the German press and corporate executives circulated stereotypes of Turkish workers to split potential solidarities between Turks and Germans. Her paper intervenes in Cedric Robinson’s arguments about the precapitalist roots of European racialism by showing how racial ideologies in 1970s Germany were generated by material structures and struggles specific to that time and place. Other papers focus on the contradictory class positions generated by recent developments, which have the effect of ideologically softening resistance, especially among homeowners and the middle-class. Zhang and Moore-Cherry’s paper looks at how the Chinese government has subdued the anti-displacement movements that marked the 1990s by creatively using both neoliberal and authoritarian techniques. And, in their study of short-term rental housing suppliers in Palma, Yrigoy, Morell and Müller find that although these property owners are both employees (in other jobs) and employers (of people who clean and care for their rental units), the rents and profits they obtain through the short-term rental housing market lead them to identify with capital rather than labour.

The papers that examine food redistribution and climate adaptations offer one way through this morass, as they remind us to take seriously the tentative and preliminary, but still “hopeful and cautionary examples” (as Webber et al. put it in their paper) of systemic change, even – or perhaps especially – in the face of unrestrained market forces and catastrophic ecological conditions. Turner and Tam’s study demonstrates that “food rescue” initiatives, which redistribute surplus food to the hungry, often transfer health and safety risks food to non-profits and ad hoc groups of volunteers. However, the authors also identify latent forms of what they call “response-able” care – that which fuels relational networks of care and, at its best, has the potential to disrupt the industrial food systems that generate food waste and hunger in the first place. Webber et al. identify examples from the US, Australia, Indonesia, and Brazil of how financialised responses to climate catastrophe are being harnessed toward more reparative and decommodified ends. They conceive of “reparative” in two ways: first, as repair (a processual, incremental form of fixing, sustaining, and restoring); and second, as reparations (work to produce an alternative geography structured by relations of care and flourishing). Similar convictions are apparent in Jarillo and Barnett’s paper, which rejects the mainstream media’s characterisations of islands threatened by climate change as simply small, vulnerable, and reactive places. Instead, drawing on fieldwork in Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, they argue that atolls are dynamic assemblages with complex resources for adaptation rooted in commitments to a holistic, relational sense of well-being.

Considered together, many of the papers in this issue share the conviction that, despite the violence wrought by contemporary political and economic contortions, the future is not yet determined. While documenting the ongoing evolution of capitalist and imperialistic geographies and their resulting forms of differentiated violence, the papers, the authors – and we, the editors and reviewers – find hope in a broad array of spatial practices for the world yet to come.

The Antipode Editorial Collective, May 2022

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