RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


271 Geographies of Anti-colonialism (1): Theorising Anti-colonialisms
Affiliation Historical Geography Research Group
Political Geography Research Group
Race, Culture and Equality Working Group
Convenor(s) Andrew Davies (University of Liverpool, UK)
David Featherstone (University of Glasgow, UK)
Federico Ferretti (University College Dublin, Ireland)
Chair(s) David Featherstone (University of Glasgow, UK)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Session abstract In the last decades, geographers have done a great work in critical exploration of the imperial legacy of their discipline, joining subaltern and postcolonial interdisciplinary scholarship. This has implied the critique and de-construction of colonial discourses and representations including imperial geographies, imperial maps, imperial and euro-centric standpoints, racist presentations of different peoples. Nevertheless, relatively fewer efforts have been done until now to study geographies of counter-empire, anti-colonialism, anti-racism and de-colonization. Recent research has shown the early emergence of unorthodox nonconformists and dissenters in the scientific field since the end of the 19th century, like the anarchist geographers Elisée Reclus, Pyotr Kropotkin and Lev Mečnikov and their international fellows, radically opposed to racisms, empires and colonialisms including, in the definition given by Antonio Gramsci, the internal ones. In the mid-20th century, some radical European scholars, like the French geographers Jean Dresch and Jean Suret-Canale, militated for of the de-colonisation of African countries; in the English-speaking world, scholars like James Blaut and Keith Buchanan pioneered then a geographical critique to Euro-centrism. New scholarship has also shown the early emergence of counter-global and anti-colonial networks in several regions, from Northern Atlantic to South Asia, and started to address geographies of resistance, of solidarity, of insubordination, of mutinies, of black and indigenous internationalisms. There is also increasing recognition of the importance of intersections between feminist struggles and anti-imperialism/ anti-colonialism, e.g. in the work of activists such as Claudia Jones and Ida Wells Barnett. The interdisciplinary field of studies linked to the transnational turn in history and social sciences is progressively shedding light on all these scholars and networks, needing nevertheless further research by geographers. After analysing imperial issues in geography, it is time to excavate anti-imperial issues in geography, as well as the geographies of anti-colonialist and subaltern networks and struggles.
Linked Sessions Geographies of Anti-colonialism (2): Histories of Anti-colonialism
Geographies of Anti-colonialism (3): Practising Anti-Colonialism
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Session's presentation by the convenors
Andrew Davies (University of Liverpool, UK)
David Featherstone (University of Glasgow, UK)
Federico Ferretti (University College Dublin, Ireland)
Session's presentation by the convenors
Beyond black internationalism, against white nationalism: the nexus of universalism, intercommunalism and spatiality in national liberation struggles
Oluwatoyosi Teriba (University of Oxford, UK)
Dominant readings of the Black Panther Party, within the frame of Black American struggle, have led to a dearth of scholarship interrogating the theoretical contributions of the Party, in general, and Minister of Defence Huey Newton, in particular, to the anticolonial politics of the period. The 1960s saw a substantial reordering of global power take shape in a rapidly emerging non-aligned block. The aim of this paper is to trace the development of Huey Newton's thinking on internationalism which culminates in the concept of 'revolutionary intercommunalism' (the universal human culture) in opposition to 'reactionary intercommunalism' (Empire). The role of sustained contact between the Black Panther Party and the anticolonial movements of Africa, Asia and Latin America has much to teach us about how National Liberation projects from the mid- 20th century onwards have closed the artificial space between theory and practice. As such this paper will argue strongly for political history as a site through which intellectual traditions might be recovered. Interrogating how the universalist overtones of Marxist-leninist National liberation, interacted with the problematique of particular national contexts, unearths fertile space to begin to answer the questions which have dogged leftist universalist projects since Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire. Intellectual histories of anticolonial struggles within the academy are quite new by building on the inheritances we have been given by thinkers such as Edward Said, in 'Culture and Imperialism' and Frantz Fanon, this paper reclaims one approach to answering these fascinating questions.
Encounters between anti-colonial and anti-totalitarian materialisms in the interwar period
Angela Last (University of Glasgow, UK)
The interwar period saw an overlap between anti-colonial and anti-totalitarian activism. A key meeting ground of this activism was matter, in particular how physical and intellectual experiments with matter could help to overcome terror and false securities of violent regimes. This experimentation moved across theory, visual and performance art, and even science. Matter was particularly contentious, because it was appropriated by both colonial and totalitarian regimes to establish human hierarchies and particular relationships to the land. Against this, a 'cosmic materialism' was offered, as a subversion of dominant narratives and as a set of practices to aid immediate survival as well as long-term change. This paper attempts to chart common themes and strategies, as well as connections between seemingly geographically dispersed authors.
Decolonizing the imaginary in the new geographies of colonization
Francisco Toro (University of Granada, Spain)
Since the metanarrative of development was used as a promise for emancipation of old colonies in the mid of 20th century, and neoliberalization became the hegemonic economic thought, a new form of colonization emerged, in which oppression and domination has been virtually replaced by symbolic and ideological means. The main vehicles of this new colonization are, among others, the public policies, the media propaganda, the production of knowledge and the educational curriculum. As a result, a lucrative and consumerist mentality prevails over the human relationships and those of humans with nature, also known as "colonization of imaginary". This process no longer responds to the classical scheme North-South or metropolis-colonies, given that the Global North and Western countries are also affected scenarios. According to the degrowth partisans, it is actually a "self-colonization", a partial voluntary servitude. In this regard, new geographies of colonization are progressively emerging, being the symptoms of an overall territorial indifference imposed by a globalized economic logic and its main actors, which is even institutionalized and specifically promoted. As a reaction, the degrowth philosophy offers a critical view of this reality, proposing an alternative based on the "decolonization of the imaginary", which has to be based in a re-territorialization of the livelihoods and the concept of human welfare. We will describe how the new geographies of colonization operate, focusing on the main driving forces which articulate them, and examine several precepts that should guide this process of decolonization according to the degrowth philosophy.