Symposium – “On the Blockade: Geographies of Circulation and Struggle”

Organised by Charmaine Chua (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Kai Bosworth (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Forthcoming in Antipode 55(5) in September 2023, and available online now, this collection, “On the Blockade: Geographies of Circulation and Struggle”, shifts our focus to a long-standing tool used by political groups of various kinds to interrupt or redirect flows of materials, capital, and people. In their introduction to the Symposium, organisers Charmaine Chua and Kai Bosworth review recent debates concerning the politics of spatial disruption, chokepoints, and circulation struggles. In doing so, they question some tendencies to fetishise the seizure of capital circulation as a de facto progressive form of disruption to the contemporary order, arguing that blockades ought to be considered not merely as tactics or pure negations of capital, but instead as articulations of collective life and open-ended attempts to build power. Thinking with blockades thus requires accounting for not only their spatial disruption but also their distinct historical contexts and social forms.

Charmaine and Kai introduce the articles in this Symposium through an analysis of five modalities through which blockades can be interpreted: as moments of refusal, redistribution, provocation, subject-formation, and concrete utopia. Finally, they describe five future directions for scholars and movements: insurgent mapping, feminist interpretation, expansion of blockade networks, analysis of reactionary blockades, and broadening the geographical and historical scope of study.

Many thanks from everyone at Antipode to Charmaine and Kai and their authors for their work on this brilliant collection. The Symposium is dedicated to the memory of Satya Savitzky, who tragically passed away in late 2022.

Beyond the Chokepoint: Blockades as Social Struggles by Charmaine Chua and Kai Bosworth

Disrupting Gentrification: From Barricades and Housing Occupations to an Insurgent Urban Subaltern History in a Southern City by Chester Antonino Arcilla

The Countersovereignty of Critical Infrastructure Security: Settler-State Anxiety versus the Pipeline Blockade by Kai Bosworth and Charmaine Chua

Seizing the Means of Circulation: Choke Points and Logistical Resistance in Coco Solo, Panama by Martin Danyluk

Beyond Obstruction: Blockades as Productive Reorientations by Sasha Davis

Maritime Labour, Circulations of Struggle, and Constructions of Transnational Subaltern Agency: The Spatial Politics of the 1939 Indian Seafarers’ Strikes by David Featherstone

Shutting Down the Machines of Destruction: Possibilities for Agrarian Life on the Protest Blockade by David E. Gilbert

Infrastructural Activism: Google Bus Blockades, Affective Politics, and Environmental Gentrification in San Francisco by Manissa M. Maharawal

Whose Streets? Roadway Protests and Weaponised Automobility by Satya Savitzky and Julie Cidell