Antipode volume 47, number 3


Natalie Oswin, one of our editors, has a special issue out with Antipode called “World, City, Queer.” Check it out!

Originally posted on

Today we sent Antipode volume 47, number 3 to the publishers. All of the papers, bar two, are already available online, and will be brought together as a collection in the June 2015 print edition.

It’ll be an issue of two parts, opening with a symposium: “World, City, Queer”. Edited by Natalie Oswin (McGill University), it explores the ways in which LGBT politics are tied to the world’s cities at a time when sexual difference is increasingly marshalled as a symbol of progress and modernity for the purposes of fostering national and urban competitiveness. Staging a conversation between work on sexuality and the city and debates on global urbanism, the symposium offers a framework for understanding the “worlding” of queerness that focuses on the relationships between globalisation, urbanisation and sexual politics…

Queer Worldings: The Messy Art of Being Global in Manila and New York by Martin Manalansan (University of Illinois…

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The Greek Elections and the Future of Europe – a Society and Space forum

With the Greek elections just a few days away, and Syriza leading the polls, we have asked a number of people to write commentaries on the prospects for Greece and the rest of Europe. The first four posts are now available:

John Agnew (Geography, UCLA) – Ordnungspolitik: Germany’s Shadow over the Greek Election

Peter Bratsis (Political Science, CUNY) – The Greek Elections and the Rebirth of Europe as a Political Space

Costas Douzinas (Law/Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck) – Greece and the Future of Europe

Antonis Vradis (Geography, Durham) – In-between Spaces

The Editors

Top ten Society and Space posts in 2014

The first few weeks of 2015 have been busy on the Society & Space open site, and we look forward to bringing you much more content for the rest of the year. Here though, we take a quick look back to highlight our ten most visited pages of 2014.

Thanks to all of our contributors, and to those who have supported our efforts by reading and sharing this engaging open access work.

10. Review of David Harvey’s Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism
Ståle Holgersen reviews Harvey’s latest book-length diagnosis of the crises of capitalism, and concludes that after reading this book, “one will definitely find it easier to imagine the end of capitalism than the end of the world. In this sense, Harvey provides a great platform from where to start to make revolutionary demands.”

9. Interview with Adrian Johnston on transcendental materialism
Originally posted in 2013, Peter Gratton interviews Johnston, whom he credits with bringing “Lacanianism into the 21st century when many wrongly claimed it dead long before the end of the last.” Among other topics, they discuss his trilogy Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism.

8. Interview with Lauren Berlant
Another interview from a past year, this posting continued to pull readers in during 2014. Conducted by David Seitz, the discussion covered contemporary queer and austerity politics, and the political implications of Cruel Optimism. We are very pleased that Berlant will be delivering the Society and Space lecture at the Association of American Geographers meeting in April.

7. Interview with Łukasz Stanek about Henri Lefebvre, ‘Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment’ and the Use Value of Theory
Stuart Elden talks with Stanek about his longstanding work on Lefebvre, including his efforts to edit and publish the previously unknown manuscript Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment.

6. Laleh Khalili – A Habit of Destruction
This commentary analyzes the attacks on Gaza during summer 2015 not as part of an episodic cycle of violence, but as part of a ‘habit of destruction’ embedded in the ideology and practice of Israeli settler-colonialism. See also the related commentaries by Nadim Khoury and Rupal Oza.

5. Daniel P S Goh – The Little India Riot and the Spatiality of Migrant Labor in Singapore
The 2013 accidental death of a construction worker in Singapore’s Little India neighbourhood led to riots by hundreds of South Asian migrant workers in the city-state. In this commentary, Goh critically discusses the exploitative spatial politics that led to the riots, and reflects on possibilities for social justice in the Asian global city.

4. Interview with Dean Spade
Natalie Oswin talked with Dean Spade about his book Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law, as well as about his various subsequent activist and scholarly pursuits.

3. Review of Judith Butler’s Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism
Posted in the midst of the attacks on Gaza in summer 2014, Lisa Bhungalia situates Butler’s efforts in the book to develop a Jewish ethics of ‘cohabitation’ as an important addition to critical efforts to unmask the political project of devaluing Palestinian lives.

2. Craig Dalton and Jim Thatcher – What does a critical data studies look like, and why do we care? Seven points for a critical approach to ‘big data’
In this commentary, Dalton and Thatcher build on calls from critical geographers to develop a critical data studies by presenting seven points they see as necessary drivers of any critique of new regimes of data.

1. Interview with Elizabeth Povinelli
This wide-ranging discussion between Mat Coleman, Kathryn Yusoff and Povinelli covers her recent and future work on biopolitics, the Anthropocene and neoliberalism, with a particular focus on her 2011 book Economies of Abandonment.

Geografias Malditas: Corpos, Sexualidades e Espaços reviewed by Jan Hutta and Maria Rodó-de-Zárate

travestis e respeito kleinJan Hutta (Universität Bayreuth), EPD author and contributor and Maria Rodó-de-Zárate (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) review the edited collection, Geografias Malditas: Corpos, Sexualidades e Espaços (Damned/Cursed Geographies: Bodies, Sexualities and Spaces), edited by Joseli Maria Silva, Marcio Jose Ornat and Alides Baptista Chimin Junior.

This important book focuses on the lives, politics and spaces of trans people, mainly in Brazil, but also in Spain, Chile, New Zealand and transnational space. The editors are members of GETE, Grupo de Estudos Territoriais (Territorial Studies Group), which is based at the State University of Ponta Grossa in Paraná, Brazil.

Geografias Malditas clearly breaks with the tradition of ‘speaking-for’, making a significant contribution to collaborative knowledge production. It goes beyond established practices of ‘giving voice’ by placing four texts written by travestis right in the first section of the book – rather than positioning them as subjective or illustrative add-ons. This is significant on both epistemological and political levels, this is not only a book about trans people. Rather, trans people, and in particular travestis, also figure prominently among the authors of the book. The significance of this issue can’t be overstated, since trans people in academic and scientific discourses have for decades been spoken for by so-called ‘experts’, who have pathologised and exoticised them. Even with the emergence of queer and transgender studies, it has been a common practice in social science debates to have cis-gendered scholars present ‘theory’, while trans people are attributed the role of telling their ‘subjective experience’, denying their capacity to engage on epistemological and political levels, and establishing ill-conceived hierarchies between ‘theory’ and ‘experience’ (Stryker, 2006).

Continue reading Jan Hutta’s review here.

As the authors state in the introduction, this books breaks many disciplinary boundaries in geography. First of all, it covers a still under-explored area of research: trans geographies. Internationally, only a small number of researchers study the reality of trans people (see Browne, Nash and Hines, 2010) and in Brazil the research on it is also very scarce. The authors start by illustrating the situation of gender and sexuality geographies in Brazil and show how it is not a welcomed subject in Brazilian academia. In this context, gender and sexualities geographies are struggling to be considered part of social sciences, and travesti geographies are taken as non-scientific and non-geographical issues. As they state: “the feeling of disregard, aversion and rejection in relation to our scientific discourse on travestis made us realize how it was perceived as the ‘damned’, in a Foucauldian sense, unable to acquire scientific value in the sacrosanct and inviolable purity of the geographical science” (page 12). This is where the title of the book comes from…

Continue reading Maria Rodó-de-Zárate’s review here.

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Mustafa Dikeç – Hate

People want us to demonstrate. Very well, but tomorrow what do we do? They point their finger at us with a nasty look on their face? I don’t want to be part of this France for a single afternoon, but every single day. –Youssouf from the Bondy banlieue

In the immediate aftermath of the horrors of 7 January, emotions run high, oscillating between a feeling of urgency to do something, and a feeling of resignation whereby everything seems futile. For what can anyone do against such reckless hate? On this day – almost a month after the release of the US Senate’s report on the gruesome CIA torture programme, and three weeks after the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan, the Peshawar school massacre where 145 people, 132 of them schoolchildren, were killed – a minibus full of explosives went off in Sana’a, killing at least 37 people and wounding 66. This was added as yet another news item on the long list of terrorist killings, without anyone organising rallies or identifying themselves with the tortured or murdered victims of such terror. No one even wiggled a pen in the air.

But the horrors of 7 January were not limited to Yemen’s capital city. For three days, the French capital was caught up in murderous events, and Parisians had a taste of what it might be like to live with terror, experienced on a daily basis in several other parts of the world. Unlike those parts of the world, however, Parisians do not live under the constant threat of established armies, private mercenaries, or drones operated from the Nevada desert. They might also take some relief that the perpetrators of the crimes of 7 January were identified and hunted down by legitimate authorities, which is rarely the case in regions destabilised by constant terror, induced by military interventions and other forms of violent attacks.

In a sign of solidarity, millions of French citizens stood up against terror, to show the world that they were ‘a united people’. The gatherings were massive, emotional and, in a way, encouraging – encouraging in that despite everything that has happened, the citizens of this country publicly manifest their solidarity and unity. But the murderers of 7 January were French citizens, too, born and raised in this country. The details of their lives that have started to emerge suggest that they all went through a radicalisation. They were not born with an inclination or bred from childhood to plan and kill journalists, police, or Jews in their own country of birth and residence. This suggests the possibility that their indoctrination and radicalisation into murderers could not have happened in the absence of long-standing and deeply entrenched grievances. It is the hate stemming from such grievances that the ideologues of terrorism mobilise, which is why the deprived and disenfranchised neighbourhoods in the peripheral areas of cities – banlieues, slums – where unemployment hits as many as half the youth population are targeted as potential recruiting grounds. But what could cause grief to a French citizen, in this cradle of human rights, united under the ‘one and indivisible Republic’?

Continue reading this commentary here.

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Doing Theory Slowly: more on media, practices and urban politics


Clive Barnett with some more detail about the conversation on ‘Slow Theory’, and how the project has developed.

Originally posted on Pop Theory:

9484-aldabra-giant-tortoise-1920x1200-animal-wallpaperFollowing up on the link to the Society and Space page with the podcast of a discussion between myself, Scott Rodgers, Allan Cochrane and Tim Markham, I thought it would be useful to recall the ‘arc’ of the conversations that Scott, Allan and I have been having since 2007. The podcast mentions the idea of ‘slow theory’ (an idea we might have stolen from a former OU colleague, Mike Saward), which is one way of capturing the process of collaborative thinking that we have been involved in that time.

– This all started when Scott was an ESRC-funded post-doc at the OU, from 2007-8, and then in turn working at CCIG at the OU.

-As part of the initial project, we held a workshop on the theme of Mediapolis, in June 2008.

– That generated the first published output of the collaboration, an edited section of the

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Media Practices and Urban Politics: A Conversation about Slow Theory

The open site is pleased to offer a conversation moderated by Tim Markham of Birkbeck with the three authors of the current issue’s “Media practices and urban politics: conceptualizing the powers of the media-urban nexus.”  The paper is now open access for one month. The paper’s authors are Scott Rodgers, Clive Barnett, and Allan Cochrane.

Left to right: Scott Rodgers, Clive Barnett, Tim Markham, and Allan Cochrane. Photo by a fast-footed Scott Rodgers on self-timer.

Left to right: Scott Rodgers, Clive Barnett, Tim Markham, and Allan Cochrane discuss their paper’s arguments and backstory, and the merits of slow scholarship. Photo by a fast-footed Scott Rodgers on self-timer. The conversation was recorded at Birkbeck’s Media Services facility; many thanks to Mansour Shabbak for help facilitating this recording. Recording edited by Scott Rodgers.



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We Will Shoot Back reviewed by Williams

9780814725245_FullBrian Williams reviews Akinyele Omowale Umoja’s book We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. The volume came out in 2013 with New York University Press.

We Will Shoot Back builds upon an important and growing body of scholarship that challenges a narrow conceptualization of civil rights activism, countering the dominant interpretation of the southern Black freedom struggles as an overwhelmingly peaceful and non-violent response to the violence of white supremacy. Continue reading Williams’ review here.

Michael Watts interview at Society and Space – fixed the broken link

Apologies for the earlier broken link to the interview – now fixed and available here

Michael Watts is Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies at University of California, Berkeley. He is the author and editor of a number of important studies of Nigeria, geopolitics, political violence and ecology. He was awarded the Victoria medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 2004 “for research on political economy, culture and power”. He is interviewed by Society and Space editor, Stuart Elden, here.

Niger delta 2007

Niger delta 2007

Interview with Michael Watts – on Nigeria, political ecology, geographies of violence, and the history of the discipline

Michael Watts is Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies at University of California, Berkeley. He is the author and editor of a number of important studies of Nigeria, geopolitics, political violence and ecology. He was awarded the Victoria medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 2004 “for research on political economy, culture and power”. He is interviewed by Society and Space editor, Stuart Elden, here.

Niger delta 2007

Niger delta 2007

Stuart Elden: You went to northern Nigeria in 1976 for your doctoral research. The dissertation and book that resulted from this – Silent Violence: Food, Famine, and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria (University of California Press, 1983) – has recently been reissued by University of Georgia Press. I want to discuss your more recent work on Nigeria and contemporary politics in the country in a moment, but first, can I ask you to reflect a bit on the Silent Violence book? What made you chose Nigeria as a country to work on, and how did you feel returning to the material to write the introduction for the new edition of the book after thirty years?

Michael Watts: First of all Stuart, let me thanks you for providing an opportunity for you and I to discuss my work, and I hope, contemporary Geography on both sides of the Atlantic. A short answer to your question is that in the first case it was something of an accident and in the second Nigeria became for me, and many others who encountered it, a country – or a ‘profession as some commentators have said –a space of compelling interest and fascination. Yes, its a bit of a train wreck, endlessly dispiriting, always surprising, unpredictable – who knew that Nigeria would in the last few weeks be praised for its ‘world class response’ to the Ebola outbreaks in Lagos and Port Harcourt!! – and a country of such enormous and unrelenting energy and creativity that it has been hard to walk away from. It would be fair to say I’ve only worked in one place over the last thirty-five years, and indeed felt no need to work elsewhere (it is true I have dabbled a bit in California, Vietnam, The Gambia and India but these proved to be little more than diversions). I actually went up to University College, London in the late 1960s to read Geography. I was raised in a small village in the south west of England, neither of my parents pursued secondary education school after the age of sixteen and joining the professoriate never entered my consciousness until I moved across the Atlantic…

continue reading here

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