RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013
||Demanding the impossible: transgressing the frontiers of geography through anarchism (3a) Reanimating Anarchist Geographies: toward new bursts of colour
Participatory Geographies Research Group
Richard White (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Simon Springer (University of Victoria, Canada)
Collin Williams (The University of Sheffield, UK)
Federico Ferretti (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
Alexandre Gillet (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
Marcelo Lopes de Souza (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Philippe Pelletier (University of Lyon, France)
Marcelo Lopes de Souza (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
||Friday 30 August 2013, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
||Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Room 120
*** Please note - this session will now be spread over timeslots 3 and 4 on Friday 30 August 2013 ***
In an age that is desperately in need of new critical directions the philosopher Simon Critchley (2011) argued that “An anarchical order is not just desirable, it is also feasible, practicable and enactable...". Despite the exciting and vigorous contribution to geography that key anarchist writers - particularly Élisée Reclus and Peter Kropotkin - made in the late nineteenth century anarchist praxis in the discipline remained conspicuous by its absence for much of the twentieth century. In recent years however a serious (re)turn toward anarchist thought and practice has begun to challenge and inspire geographers to travel beyond the frontiers of geographical knowledge (which have in too many cases served only to diminish and limit our ideas and imagination about what is both possible and practical).
In 2012, the first Special Issue in Anarchist Geographies published by Antipode in 34 years was a definitive moment in indicating a geographical turn toward anarchist praxis. Through illustrating the exciting kaleidoscopic range of geographies that were emerging in this area, the Special Issue exposed the very real, new and exciting anarchist lines of flight that are strengthening the ability of geography/ers to contribute meaningfully to the very real human and other-than-human crises that are unfolding throughout the world today.
Moving confidently and constructively toward new radical and "anarchist" spaces therefore has allowed for new geographical imaginations and spatial practices to flourish, and opened up many exciting directions and territories for geographers to engage with. The Panel is keen to support and promote any anarchist theory and practice that will further animate anarchist geographies with "new burst(s) of colour" (Springer et al 2012). In the context of challenging geographical frontiers (whether employed as a concept, a metaphor or as a point of empirical focus) we are particularly keen to promote the three areas of anarchist geography/ies that Brietbart (2012: 1584) identifies: (1) radicalizing pedagogy (2) the use of space for resistance and the incubation of alternative social structures; (3) the dissemination of new ideas and spatial/ social practices, and all the anarchist spaces that lie in between!
Demanding the impossible: transgressing the frontiers of geography through anarchism (1)
Demanding the impossible: transgressing the frontiers of geography through anarchism (2); Embracing anarchist praxis at a time of political, economic and social crisis
Demanding the impossible: transgressing the frontiers of geography through anarchism (3b) Reanimating Anarchist Geographies: toward new bursts of colour
Magonism distribution patterns: movement territorial spread and anarchist social networks
The spatial and temporal analysis of organic and supportive groups related to the magonist movement (México-United States of America, 1904-1918) allows us to clear up distribution patterns as well as territorial reach and influence of this anarchist inspired movement.
A notable characteristic is the concentration of these groups in the United States of America, particularly in states bordering with México, owing to interest and strategies followed by the movement. Likewise, it should be noted that the concentration of the above mentioned groups in the México’s northern states, especially in Coahuila and Texas, was established where there was an important migration associated to mining zones and monoculture areas (specially cotton farming).
Additionally, temporal variation in organic and supportive group’s concentration is connected with the historic circumstances, such as governmental repression (in both countries) and the development of Mexican Revolution, among others. Spatial patterns presented in this study correspond to periods in which the movement had more or less force and stages of repression and containment policy. However, this also demonstrates the richness of the social network established and organized around this anarchist movement (richness that has a significant parallelism with the contemporary zapatist movement support networks).
Anarchism in Action?
The hippy trail was one of the great examples of alternative tourism. In the 1960s and 70s, hundreds of thousands of young people left Northern America and Western Europe to head out to Morocco, India, Afghanistan, Nepal and other points East. They travelled with no desire to conquer or to exploit: frequently they expressed admiration for people and cultures that they visited, and stated their desire to learn from them. While the paths they followed were similar to those travelled by their colonial grandparents, their motivations were quite different. Some were searching for an alternative to the nine to five conventions of western society; some sought spiritual enlightenment (and a few even found it); some went in search of drugs for personal use or for profit; others saw their travel as a political statement against consumerism and materialism; and some just wanted to see the East.
In most cases the travellers were not avowed anarchists, but their experiences form a useful and important case study of the anarchist ideal trans-cultural communication. Did they find a way of transcending the hierarchic cultural practices described in Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978)? This paper will compare their ideals with their practices, noting examples where hippy travellers established egalitarian forms of contact with indigenous peoples, and cases which suggest a more mainstream form of tourism. It is based on interviews, first-hand accounts and archive sources.
The reciprocal challenges of the anarchical approach and Geopolitics
Theoretically Geopolitics moved from an organicistic (Ratzel) and hierarchical-territorial (Mackinder, Spykman, Bowman) point of view to the “obvious” state-centered dynamics studied by the International Relations (and diplomacy, and Political Science, etc.). The Agnew’s “territorial trap”.
In the last two/three decade the Postmodernism and the Geocritical approach questioned and criticized/deconstructed the meta-geographical discourse of the power (and state-power) and the narratives of the (Western) mass media. Major sources of reference were Foucault and the French Philosophical Thought, today also a little bit of Gramsci and the very up to date Agamben.
In many ways, in contemporary academia these critics/ criticisms have been appropriated: rendered inoffensive and harmless; evidenced by how many 'acceptable' university courses, departments, books and articles willing to incorporate their approaches (mainly in the anglo-saxon world). Politically certainly this geocritical approach is considered not dangerous. Anarchism on the other hand was; see the academic difficulties of Elisée Reclus, and Peter Kropotkin for example. Reclus, and Kropotkin only being “accepted” due not to their anarchist work, but because of their merits as (physical) geographers.
The current postmodern and geocritical approach is largely parallel (sometimes exactly alike) to the traditional anarchist approach versus the state-power (included the currently very fashioned bio-power) and versus the social impact of the hierarchical capitalistic economic system. The marginalization of the anarchical thought in Geopolitics and Geoeconomy is still largely an outcome of the dominant role of Marxism as the “best” and unique valid critical approach to the bourgeois social system.
The presentation will try to show which ones of the traditional anarchist ideas are still useful for a strong critical vision of the current political and economic dynamics and how these latter are challenging the anarchist approach and its late 19th century Enlightenment starting points.
Producing autonomy: analysing a spatial practice
This paper examines a proposed methodology for the deliberate production of autonomous space. Drawing on Castoriadis' definition of autonomy as a process of interrogation and reflection on society and one's role within it, and Lefebve's 'Production of Space', as an activist-artist I look at the ways in which this process can be instigated through the reconfiguration and/or production of new spatial relations. The practice is defined in terms of Deleuze's 'lines of flight', 'molecular lines' and 'molar lines' and Joseph Beuys' 'soziale Plastik'.
The methodology proposed is examined in the context of my experiences as an activist heavily involved in Climate Camp, Climate Justice Collective, No Dash for Gas and numerous creative direct action events with groups including Liberate Tate, Reclaim Shakespeare Company and others. It is then compared with the spatial practice of some contemporary artists and radical pedagogical methods which share the aims of enabling interrogation and reflection. Finally, the usefulness of this practice is evaluated using conclusions drawn from an ethnographic study of participants that forms part of my doctoral thesis.
Rebel São Paulo: A historical cartography of the anarchist movement in São Paulo
The history of the anarchist movement in the city of São Paulo started a long time ago. More than a hundred years have pass and groups and individuals still acting and interfering in the life of the city. The intention of this work is present the work that we´re developing in the Terra Livre Library about the history of the anarchist movement in São Paulo. We are developing a map for each region of the city. The map contain information’s about anarchist militants, anarchist spaces, manifestations and demonstrations of anarchists since the first actions until today. The intention of the project is publish all this material in a book, something similar to the book Rebel Barcelona so we can share our history from our perspective.
Urban Anarchy in Athens: From 2008 Revolt through Indignados Movement Counterinsurgency in the Era of Crisis
Contemporary struggles and revolts that rise in Athens during the crisis era sprang from existing social relations and sow seeds that are growing day by day. Through a tour of Athens's particular urban characteristics, we focus on the territorial spread of December 2008 revolt that gave birth to a plethora of spaces and practices, on the contemporary mobilizations against austerity measures and on the spatial tactics of counterinsurgency. We examine the articulation of the land uses, the gentrification processes, the model of compact city vis-à-vis the emergence of urban sprawl, the processes of dispossession-eviction-criminalization of squatters and immigrants, the police brutality against labour mobilizations, struggles and strikes. Following Lefebvre’s analysis we consider space in a dialectic approach as a projection of the society on the ground, thus we claim that urban space can function as a social antagonistic arena where everyday life is in the focal point of political and social conflicts.
We consider on the one hand the rebellion class, the rhythm of the movement, the space as a symbol, and on the other hand the political polarization, the demolition of both the welfare state and the middle class, and the emergence of fascism. Furthermore we compare Athens’ example with recent revolts and fights such as the US Occupy movement, Spanish 'Indignados' movement or the 'Arabic spring' and indicate similarities but also notable differences. In closing we adhere to the claim that Athens will always vindicate its urban character through its small and big revolts.
Negations of Neoliberal Reterritorialisations of Agricultural Capital in post-2008 Greece
This presentation focuses on the mapping of built-up anarchist food structures beyond capitalist logic and beyond the state, a project aiming at empirically introducing the concept of a negative dialectics into geographic scholarship by mapping negations of neoliberal reterritorialisation of capital.