Book review forum on ‘The Anarchist Roots of Geography’

The AAG Review of Books has published its book review forum on Simon Springer’s The Anarchist Roots of Geography to which I contributed an affirmative but critical commentary. Contributions to the forum follow from the author-meets-critics session at the 2017 AAG meeting in Boston. The whole forum can be found here, and here.

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Posted in Conferences, Critical Human Geography, My publications or presentations, Political Geography, Politics, Posts (uncategorized) | Leave a comment

Conferences and events on legacies of 1968

This coming year, 2018 will be an opportunity to mark the fiftieth anniversary of 1968. On the thirtieth anniversary, Immanuel Wallerstein sought to coordinate the disparate events of that year into an identifiable “single revolution.” On the fortieth anniversary, others, like Michael Watts, characterized the year 1968 as “a global insurrection.” For scholars in the social sciences and humanities this coming year will be an opportunity to look back and, for some, relate to the past as a way of thinking forward. Recent calls for papers suggests that it ought to be a busy year for those of us who are writing and thinking about the present, post-1968.

Organizers at University of York recently circulated their call for papers for a two-day interdisciplinary conference, “Fifty Years of Revolution: Gender, Race and Resistance 1968-2018.” (I cut-and-paste the call below.) Earlier this month, organizers at Middlebury College circulated their call for “1968, Fifty Years of Struggles,” another interdisciplinary conference set to take place in March (the deadline for abstracts has passed). Here at University of Wyoming, I am working with colleagues in History, Spanish, and International Studies to organize our “Fifty Years of ’68” as a launch event for our Latin American Studies Working Group (more on that as the project develops).

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Fifty Years of Revolution: Gender, Race and Resistance 1968-2018

A two-day interdisciplinary conference, University of York

Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 May 2018

2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, a year that has gone down in history, certainly in the Western context, as synonymous with revolution and protest. It also marks seven years since the Arab uprisings which revealed an image of Arabs, contrary to Orientalist stereotypes, as progressive, politically informed and independently minded. Amid these contexts, the Centre for Women’s Studies, the Department of English and Related Literature and the Centre for Modern Studies at the University of York are holding a two-day interdisciplinary conference on revolution and the revolutionary in politics and culture from 1968 to the present from an explicitly gendered perspective. Gender is constitutive of how we think about revolution, revolutionary subjectivity and the revolutionary, and the fifty years since 1968 have seen the appearance of radically new gendered forms of revolutionary subjectivity, politics and aesthetic practices.

Questions the conference seeks to address include (but are not limited to):

  • How has gender, as it intersects with categories such as race, ethnicity, class and (dis)ability, shaped what counts as revolution and the revolutionary over this fifty-year period?;
  • How are constructions and embodied experiences of revolutionary agency and subjectivity gendered?;
  • What historical (dis)continuities exist in forms of cultural production around revolution and the revolutionary since 1968?;
  • What is the significance of revolutionary textual/aesthetic practices and acts of what Marwan Kraidy has termed ‘creative insurgency’ (2016) in wider revolutionary projects?

The conference does not hope to be exhaustive in covering this fifty-year period; rather we seek to employ a case-studies approach, taking in different historical moments and geographical contexts with the aim of critically rethinking how we theorise revolution and revolutionary practices from a gendered perspective.

We invite proposals for papers from diverse (inter)disciplinary contexts, including: Gender/Women’s Studies, English Literature, Modern Language Studies, Postcolonial Studies, History of Art, History, Political Science, International Relations, Drama/Theatre Studies, Philosophy.

Please email abstracts (of around 250 words) along with a short bio to Clare Bielby and Claire Chambers at: genderingrevolution@gmail.com by 28th February 2018.

Posted in Calls, Conferences, Memory, Politics, Transnationalism | Leave a comment

Graduate student opportunities in Geography at University of Wyoming

I am interested to advise graduate students in cultural geography, political geography, cultural studies, and/or on themes in the regional geography of Latin America. In the UW department more generally, we are well positioned to advise and build committees around MA projects across the breadth of the discipline.

Graduate students with whom I currently work as an advisor or committee member are examining a wide array of topics, from indigenous movements for autonomy in Panama to gender in the electoral geography of Wyoming, to gendered and raced experiences of education in Moldova, to cultural landscapes of waste in post-unification Germany.

Please email if you are interested in working with me and/or have any questions about graduate school as a geographer at the University of Wyoming: ncrane@uwyo.edu. I will appreciate an informal statement about what you may want to do as a graduate student, and some background information about your preparation for that course of study.

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Convocatoria: “geografías críticas en América Latina,” con Íconos

Una revista de FLACSO, Íconos va a publicar una colección de articulos en “geografías críticas en América Latina.” (En parte, este proyecto surge a través del trabajo del Colectivo de Geografía Crítica del Ecuador.) Esta es la segunda colección sobre este tema en poco tiempo. Hace poco, la revista de CLAG, the Journal of Latin American Geography publicó su propia colección “critical geographies in Latin America,” sobre que he escrito un post y en que tengo una contribución, escrito con Zoe Pearson.

Estan recibiendo articulos para esta colección en Íconos hasta el 4 de septiembre. Puedan ver aquí, la convocatoria. There is also a version of the call in English.

Posted in América Latina, Calls, Convocatorias, Critical Human Geography, geografía crítica, The Americas | Leave a comment

Group-centered leadership formation in contemporary racial justice organizing

I recently returned to some collaborative writing from the “Breaking Consent” project. Our first paper from the project will be on group-centered leadership formation in contemporary racial justice organizing. The intention is to produce a contribution to academic and movement-relevant literatures that Ohio Student Association organizers can smoothly incorporate in the political education and leadership development processes of the organization.

The article intervenes in the context of “horizontalist” and “verticalist” arguments about social justice organizing (arguments quickly described at the outset of this post on the Mobilizing Ideas blog). Contemporary racial justice organizing in the United States is remarkable in part for how it fundamentally challenges the terms of this debate. Although contemporary racial justice organizing is often interpreted as “leaderless” in the mold of Occupy, and is sometimes revered for its spontaneous quality by people who presume to speak for the movement, people contributing to U.S.-based racial justice organizing since 2012 have explicitly described the work as “leader-full.” With this descriptor, racial justice organizers are naming a post-liberal turn towards group-centered leadership formation that revives subjugated histories of the Black Freedom Movement and disobeys the dichotomy in social movement theory and practice between “vertical” and “horizontal” modes of political engagement.

Our article maps connections between subjugated histories of Black Freedom struggle and contemporary organizing practices, and identifies challenges facing racial justice organizers who promote group-centered leadership formation. We are informed by an array of movement-relevant literature and data (video reflections, journals, fieldnotes, and interviews) from our process of “strategic reflection” in the Ohio Student Association. Our analysis follows post-Althusserian currents in political theory to characterize hero-centred charismatic leadership as a technology of policing, echoing a paper I presented at the 2016 Mini-Conference on Policing and Race in Cincinnati. In contrast, we characterize group-centered leadership formation as a mode of politicization. By framing group-centered leadership formation this way, we emphasize that, while these processes clearly disrupt an unjust configuration of the world, group-centered leadership formation is even more significant for how it ensures both escalation in movement moments and stability in organizational moments.

Group-centered leadership formation is not, however, an easy solution to organizational shortcomings of “leaderless” protest. Activists promoted leaderlessness because it seems to promise relief from ubiquitous oligarchical forms of political engagement. Organizers of “leader-full” campaigns have developed organizing practices that appear to address the problems of accountability, sustainability, strategic uncertainty, and individualism associated with “leaderless” protest, but they also must skillfully negotiate tendencies towards mediation and individualization that have historically been established through the lionization of charismatic leaders.

Readers interested in these themes might also enjoy the “Social Movement Leadership” forum on the blog Mobilizing Ideas.

Posted in action-research, Activism, My publications or presentations, Policing, Political Geography, Politics, Posts (uncategorized), Resistance Studies, Social Movements, Young People | Leave a comment

‘Critical Geographies in Latin America’ – Journal of Latin American Geography 16(1)

The Journal of Latin American Geography has just released a new special issue on ‘Critical Geographies in Latin America,’ which is part of a very intentional turn in the editorial position of the journal (as detailed here in JLAG 15[1]). In their introduction to the special issue, the guest editors Johnny Finn and Anne-Marie Hanson assert their intention for the special issue, “to decenter critical geographic knowledges by emphasizing the multiplicity of long-term histories and trajectories that underlie globalized cultural and political projects in Latin America.” They continue, “a truly critical geography makes visible the connections between spatial practices that not only control territories, but also bodies, knowledges, imaginaries, and experiences.”

Zoe Pearson and I contributed a short article to the special issue, on “The Challenge of Feminist Political Geography to State-Centrism in Latin American Geography.” I cut-and-paste our abstract below.

Abstract

Since the 1990s, feminist political geographers have done ethnographic research to examine the state as an effect of everyday practices, and have accordingly challenged statist theories of the political that reproduce a myth of the state’s autonomous power to determine the coordinates of political life. This article promotes a feminist turn in geographical research on state power in Latin America. We reflect on the stakes of moving away from a masculinist epistemology of the state for the regional literature, and present evidence from our research in Bolivia and Mexico that helps us theorize the state as a contingent set of social relations that ordinary people participate in naturalizing. Our analysis shows how this set of social relations may be reproduced in everyday life, and also highlights how ordinary people may organize their lives in excess of social-spatial orders given to the exercise of state power. We conclude by arguing for critical geographies of/in Latin America informed by feminist insights on the exercise of state power, both to appreciate the role of struggles over social reproduction in recent political developments in the region and also to denaturalize a social-spatial ordering of everyday life that sustains injustice.

Keywords: Bolivia, feminist political geography, Mexico, the state

Resumen

Desde la década de los 90, los geógrafos políticos feministas han realizado investigación etnográfica para examinar el estado como un resultado de prácticas cotidianas y, como consecuencia de esto, han desafiado las teorías “estatales” de lo político sobre el estado que reproducen el mito de que el estado tiene el poder autónomo para dictaminar las coordenadas de la vida política. Este artículo promueve un giro feminista en la investigación geográfica sobre el poder del estado en Latinoamérica. En él, reflexionamos sobre las implicaciones de alejarse de una epistemología masculina en la crítica sobre la región y presentamos evidencia de nuestra investigación, en Bolivia y en México, que nos permite teorizar el estado como un sistema contingente de relaciones sociales naturalizadas por la gente común. Nuestro análisis muestra que este sistema de relaciones sociales se reproducen en la cotidianidad, y resalta la manera en la que la gente común puede llegar a organizar su vida a partir de un exceso de órdenes socio-espaciales dadas para garantizar el ejercicio del poder del estado. Concluimos defendiendo la importancia de estudios geográficos críticos sobre el ejercicio del poder del estado informados por perspectivas feministas de y en Latinoamérica. Esto permite, por un lado, apreciar el papel de las luchas sobre la reproducción social en acontecimientos políticos recientes en la región y, por otro, permite desnaturalizar el ordenamiento socio-espacial de la cotidianidad que sostiene la injusticia.

Palabras claves: Bolivia, geografía política feminista, México, el estado

Posted in Bolivia, Critical Human Geography, Mexico, My publications or presentations, Political Geographies of the State, Political Geography, Politics, The Americas | 1 Comment

‘Objects of Inquiry: Ways of Seeing, Ways of Knowing in the Humanities’

I will contribute to a panel this evening at the University of Wyoming Art Museum, about the status of objects in humanities research. The occasion for our panel is a visit from Jim Harris, the Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator in the University Engagement Programme of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in the University of Oxford. The Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research also hosted Jim in December 2014, when he gave this talk (video below). My comments tonight will draw in part from my thinking on the materiality of archives. Thank you to Isadora Helfgott (UW History) for organizing the panel.

Posted in Aesthetics, Archives, Research Design, Teaching, University service | 1 Comment