It’s September, which means the start of autumn and time for the fifth issue of this year’s volume of Antipode. Quoting the inimitable Andy Kent, the issue contains a cracking set of papers: a symposium of seven papers on “The Spatial Politics of Infrastructure-Led Development in Pakistan” co-edited and introduced by Majed Akhter, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar and Hasan Karrar; the fantastic 2021 Antipode RGS-IBG Lecture by Brett Christophers on renewable energy and energy transitions after the end of subsidisation; and six excellent papers that draw on and push the archives of radical geography (of which Antipode is a proud custodian) in various ways.
In their introduction to the symposium, Akhter, Ahktar and Karrar draw on Frantz Fanon and contend that the analysis of regional infrastructural politics be placed within larger global frameworks and conjunctures. They describe the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Pakistan and why they may be key to understanding contemporary infrastructure-led development in Asia. These descriptions contextualise the following seven essays, which critically examine different kinds of infrastructures in Pakistan. In “The Checkpost State in Pakistan’s War of Terror”, Ahktar draws on and theorises from his participation in popular struggles against the state’s many “securitisation” measures. Karrar’s paper explores the geopolitics of infrastructure and securitisation and how they enable the military to spearhead development in north Pakistan, particularly in areas bordering China and India. Writing about the differently peripheral areas of the Southern Punjab, Ali Ahmad offers nuanced accounts of social movements resisting displacement and other uneven consequences of development initiatives undertaken to control floods, improve agriculture, and other measures to improve human welfare. Such unequal development is often contested in the name of the environment, which is a theme that Akhter develops in “Dams, Development, and Racialised Internal Peripheries”.
The next set of papers take us to Lahore. Nida Rehman’s ethnographic analysis of attempts to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases in Lahore provide a view of the state’s engagement with hydraulic environments in an urban milieu. We stay Lahore with Caylee Hong, who explores how communication and surveillance technologies and bureaucratic machineries are mobilised in the name of creating “safe” and “smart” cities. Sajjad and Javed’s paper on Pakistan’s first mass transit project, the Lahore Bus Rapid Transit corridor, shows how such infrastructure-led development moves the public through physical and political space. The thread of concern about urban governance that runs through these papers and their analytical insights are relevant far beyond Lahore to transregional and transnational contexts.
Energy crackles through Brett Christophers’ 2021 Antipode RGS-IBG Lecture about the end of state subsidies for solar and wind technologies. As we question one kind of empire with Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, it reminds us to question the consolidation of others by likes of Jeff Bezos, as renewable power comes to rely on the purchasing habits of corporations like Amazon and Google.
This need to question the contradictions and tensions of promises of better ecological futures is a theme of three papers: Collard and Dempsey’s paper on the claim of the Canadian state to protect species and promote economic growth, Cretney and Nissen’s paper on climate emergency declarations in Aotearoa New Zealand, and Kesha Fevrier’s paper on informal waste recycling and green capitalism in Ghana and the global South at large. Liam Fox’s paper on petroleum pipelines for the “public interest” in Canada echoes some of the themes raised in Symposium papers above.
Michael Kelly examines the historical development of racial segregation of housing in upstate New York and its continuation through contemporary real estate capitalism and land speculation. If Kelly’s paper connects past and present, Scott Schwartz’s suggests how the present is colonised by the future through his examination of neoliberal developments in New York City. His spatial analysis offers different ways of conceiving the relations between time, death, and economics.*
Dark threads connect the past, present, and future as the COVID-19 pandemic has become chronic and is joined by monkeypox. But as we noted last year, we hope that the papers in this volume will support your critical endeavours and attempts to reimagine and build better multi-species worlds.
The Antipode Editorial Collective, September 2022
*The image featured above is of a banner in Dresden “from the future threatening the present” (photo by Scott Schwartz).
- The Spatial Politics of Infrastructure-Led Development: Notes from an Asian Postcolony by Majed Akhter, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar and Hasan H. Karrar
- The Checkpost State in Pakistan’s War of Terror: Centres, Peripheries, and the Politics of the Universal by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
- The Geopolitics of Infrastructure and Securitisation in a Postcolony Frontier Space by Hasan H. Karrar
- Infrastructure, Development, and Displacement in Pakistan’s “Southern Punjab” by Ali Nobil Ahmad
- Dams, Development, and Racialised Internal Peripheries: Hydraulic Imaginaries as Hegemonic Strategy in Pakistan by Majed Akhter
- Epidemic Infrastructures and the Politics of Responsibility in Lahore by Nida Rehman
- “Safe Cities” in Pakistan: Knowledge Infrastructures, Urban Planning, and the Security State by Caylee Hong
- Democracy, Legitimacy, and Mega-Project Politics: The Evolution of Lahore’s First BRT Corridor by Fizzah Sajjad and Umair Javed
- Taking Renewables to Market: Prospects for the After-Subsidy Energy Transition by Brett Christophers
- Future Eco-Perfect: Temporal Fixes of Liberal Environmentalism by Rosemary-Claire Collard and Jessica Dempsey
- Emergent Spaces of Emergency Claims: Possibilities and Contestation in a National Climate Emergency Declaration by Raven Cretney and Sylvia Nissen
- Informal Waste Recycling Economies in the Global South and the Chimera of Green Capitalism by Kesha Fevrier
- Pipelines in the “Public Interest”? The Jurisdictional Work of a Concept in Canadian Pipeline Assessment by Liam Fox
- Land Speculation and Suburban Covenants: Racial Capitalism and the Pre-Redlining Roots of Housing Segregation in Syracuse, New York by Michael T. Kelly
- Nekronology: The End of the Future at the Hudson Yards by Scott W. Schwartz