A Radical Geography Community
***Comments now closed; Joel and Geoff’s reply is available here. Thanks to all who contributed.***
A ‘symposium’, of course, is a party – ‘a convivial meeting for drinking, conversation, and intellectual entertainment’, as the OED puts it. And geographers, it seems, aren’t good at parties. Peter Gould (1985: 4) opened his The Geographer at Work with a description of a cocktail party where he was asked the dreaded question ‘And what do you do?’ – dreaded because it elicits ‘[t]hat awful feeling of desperate foolishness when you, a professional geographer, find yourself incapable of explaining simply and shortly to others what you really do’. What’s worse, arguably, is that if we struggle to articulate what geography is all about, then our fellow partygoers are only too happy to help us out. Trevor Barnes (2002: 9) remembers being at a party, ‘…sitting on the floor with other guests in a loose circle, taking turns saying what we did…When I said I was a graduate student in economic geography, one of them burst into uncontrollable laughter. “So what do you do, find new places?” he guffawed’. It’s a hopeless situation. Even ex-Antipode editor and gregarious Mancunian Noel Castree admits that when ‘…a stranger asks you what you do for a living…what most of us usually do…[is] mumble the sentence “I’m a geographer” and then try to move the conversation on before said stranger tells you how he or she loved studying rocks and rivers at high school.’
This, to be sure, is an important issue – how do we communicate the meaning and value of geography to different “publics”? And how should we respond to the (mis)representations already at large? – but one for another day. What we want to do here is stage a different sort of gathering – the first, we hope, of many – where, freed from derision and embarrassment, geographers qua geographers can flourish. (You’ll have to bring your own drinks, though.)
Antipode has long been a place where radical ideas not only assemble but also meet with critical responses. The commentaries on David Harvey’s (1972) now-classic “Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary theory in geography and the problem of ghetto formation”, for example, were commissioned because of a feeling that ‘…there is a lack of controversy in most of the geography journals. A journal like Antipode is well suited to commentary and argumentation and we welcome comments on the papers we publish’ (Peet 1972: iv). With AntipodeFoundation.org we hope we can facilitate a lot more commentary and argumentation through which lacunae can be identified, threads drawn out and spun on, and searching questions asked.
We begin with Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann’s paper ‘Climate Leviathan’. Forthcoming in Antipode 45(1), and available online now, it’s a singularly ambitious work; it’s original, innovative, tremendously provocative, and it pushes the boundaries of radical scholarship. As such we think it demands, and is deserving of, some open and critical debate, and we’d like to stage a conversation where others can respond to Joel and Geoff and they in turn can reply to the critique levelled. Ultimately we want AntipodeFoundation.org to become a forum where real dialogue happens as a matter of course, where colleagues/comrades feel comfortable discussing each others’ work. So, we’ve made ‘Climate Leviathan’ freely available (it’s open access – no subscription required) until the end of the year and commissioned four responses to it (by Joshua Barkan, Patrick Bigger, Mazen Labban, and Larry Lohmann); we now invite shorter comments from readers (you can participate at the bottom of the page [note that there will be a slight delay before your comments appear while spam-detection does its thing]), and after a month Joel and Geoff will reply.
We owe a debt of thanks to Joel and Geoff and their interlocutors – Josh, Patrick, Mazen, and Larry. We’d also like to thank Rhiannon Rees and Dexter Santos at Wiley-Blackwell for helping make this symposium happen.
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Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann (2012) Climate Leviathan. Antipode doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2012.01018.x
Abstract: While there is much justifiable attention to the ecological implications of global climate change, the political implications are just as important for human wellbeing and social justice. We posit a basic framework by which to understand the range of political possibilities, in light of the response of global elites to climate warming and the challenges it poses to hegemonic institutional and conceptual modes of governance and accumulation. The framework also suggests some possible means through which these responses might be thwarted, and political stakes in that construction of a new hegemony – which, to avoid suggesting we know or can yet determine the form it will take, we call ‘climate X’.
Keywords: climate change, Leviathan, political economy, sovereignty, Hegel, Marx, Schmitt
Joshua Barkan, Liberalism, Sovereignty, and Politics
Patrick Bigger, Red Terror on the Atmosphere
Mazen Labban, Beyond Behemoth
Larry Lohmann, Commentary on ‘Climate Leviathan’
Castree N (2000) What kind of critical geography for what kind of politics? Environment and Planning A 32(12):2091-2095
Barnes T J (2002) Critical notes on economic geography from an ageing radical, or, Radical notes on economic geography from a critical age. ACME 1:8-14
Gould P (1985) The Geographer at Work. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
Harvey D (1972) Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary theory in geography and the problem of ghetto formation. Antipode 4(2):1-13
Peet R (1972) Editorial policy. Antipode 4(2):iv