A curation of articles, essays, book reviews and interviews on critical geographical concerns.
A Book Review Forum is a collection of reviews by various authors in response to a single book, or a group of books. Each forum is concluded by a response from the author.
Rent is far more than an economic relation denoting the temporary use of property. Rent is also a social, political, and emotional relation woven together by caste, kinship, and community; as such, rent decides who lies inside and who lies outside registers of value. A brilliant book that is a must-read by urbanists of South Asia and beyond, Properties of Rent tells us first and foremost why vernacular theories of capitalism matter.
Being so many things at once allows Counterpoints to open a space for conversations that recognize the manifold histories, layers, and ongoing resistances to displacement while inviting multiple modes of engagement. It is through coming together and working through these conversations in practice that we will collectively find ways forward.
Fragments of the City practices what it advocates, the benefits to urban scholarship of working with the incomplete and the provisional, alongside multiple emerging situations and voices on the ground. In Colin’s hands, the city is many things at once, unsettled and always in the making, with a multitude of possibilities simultaneously in motion.
Savage Ecology decenters and recenters humans and technology in an era of unending war.
"Experiments in Skin: Race and Beauty in the Shadows of Vietnam" unmasks neat epistemic divides between war and beauty, harm and care. Thuy Linh Tu asks how skin and practices of caring for skin are sites of racialized war-making and knowledge-making, of violent histories and ambivalent futures.
Through discussion of archival and documentary evidence as well as ethnographic material on gender reassignment surgery in Thailand, Aizura brilliantly and beautifully lays out the importance of thinking transness through the lens of mobility and motility, while “tak[ing] seriously how travel and mobility themselves are concepts freighted with the history of global and transnational travel and its representation: colonial and imperial exploration and settlement and migration by sea, land, and air” (2018: 3).
Mainwaring sheds critical light on the importance of seemingly ‘marginal’ actors to the generation of European migration policies, highlighting the central role that Malta has played in the constitution of the so-called ‘migration crisis’ as well as the animating role that migrants have played in shaping Mediterranean space.
Afghanistan neither fully fits under epistemological frameworks of colonial governance nor is it viewed as a completely ungovernable space. How race, war, and knowledge production come to shape Afghanistan in this quasi-colonial conceptualization is one of the book’s significant contributions and Manchanda traces this through various registers in the chapters including formulations of the state of Afghanistan, the idea of the ‘Tribe,’ and representations of Afghan women and men.
What happens when a postcolonial left, unified by its commitment to contesting the global neoliberal order, finds itself divided on the tactics and strategic horizons that might remake their society anew?
The reviews collected in this forum, written by scholars of logistics, maritime capitalism, and the Indian Ocean world, travel with Dua in asking what we can learn from situating piracy within economies and social worlds of protection.
"The Black Shoals" is a distinguished multi-layered and deeply analytical text that offers provocative interventions that when taken seriously provide a roadmap, for human beings, to be in better relation with one another and, as scholars, to engage deeply in questions of the human on the road to liberation.
These works provide me with an axis not only to ask how nationally contrived immigration policies settle in space, but also how everyday configurations of refusal are convened in the urban margins.
Estes’ insurgent history demands that we reject the limp gestures of “reconciliation” and “reparations” symbolically extended by the settler state, and that we instead work to return the land to its original caretakers, and with it, a new world and a way out of climate catastrophe and colonial relations.
The promise of urban planning is especially bright in postconflict cities, where planning is expected to bring not only development but also peace. But as Hiba Bou Akar shows in this celebrated book, what followed the 1990 ceasefire was not peace but a “war in times of peace.”
This essay serves as an introduction to the book forum for Micol Seigel’s "Violence Work". I provide context for the reviews gathered here and offer some additional reflections on the place of her book within literatures on policing and organizing for abolition that has been rapidly changing the political landscape.
Grounded in Beam’s experiences of frontline work and careful inquiry into the history and political economy of LGBTQ nonprofits in Chicago and Minneapolis, this book offers a persuasive indictment of the nonprofit form, as well as a deeply felt mediation on how savvy grassroots organizers struggle with its constraints.
We explore the implications of Lewis' argument that confronting unjust aspects of the surrogate industry requires not simple opposition to its technologies, but rather an abolition of the hetero-patriarchal private capitalist form in which surrogacy is embedded.
The critique of transpacific spaces is not merely an intellectual project, but one that is constituted by and constitutive of material politics and activism on the ground.
Based on ethnographic research in two orangutan rehabilitation centers in Malaysian Borneo, the book urges us to think about mutual but unequal vulnerability in the face of annihilation.
Black Food Geographies’ emphasis that food geographies are made, lived, and experienced shows that there is much more to be gained through food geographies research – expressly through the condition of Black communities.
The food system has been widely recognized as the source of many social and environmental problems but also as a catalyst for action. Critical scholars have demonstrated, the capitalist, industrial food system is doing exactly what it was designed to do – exploit labour and land to concentrate resources and power in the hands of corporations (Clapp, 2012; Holt-Giménez, 2017). Over the past few decades, there has been a rise of scholarship and activism that aspires to confront inequities in the food system and develop viable alternatives.
The book is focused on long-standing anticolonial struggles in territory that is, at least as the colonial powers-that-be understand it, in the western part of the province of Québec, about three hours’ drive north of the Canadian national capital in Ottawa, Ontario.
In this well-written and accessible book, Sam Stein explains the role of the state in creating gentrification. In popular discourse, gentrification has often been seen as a “private” phenomena.
This is an extraordinary book. It is lucid, compelling, insightful, and a tremendous achievement. It is dense and scholarly but also fascinating, moving, gripping even. Geoff Mann really wants you to understand, he wants you to see what he sees, and he has a gift for involving you in the process of discovering all the threads and alleyways that animate this study.
A House of Prayer for All People by David K. Seitz is based on nearly three years of ethnographic fieldwork in a large, predominantly LGBT and evangelical Christian church located in Toronto, Canada.
In 'Police: A Field Guide' (Verso, 2017), David Correia and Tyler Wall provocatively argue for a "redefined language of policing" in order to get out of the trap of "copspeak", which typically legitimates police activity and provides few avenues for thinking critically about police practices. This forum collects and extends those commentaries, highlighting the book's challenges and contributions to debates over police power, incarceration, abolition, military and law enforcement technologies and black feminism.
This book forum grew out of an “author meets critics” session at the April 2018 meeting of the American Association of Geographers. Lisa Bates, Nate Gabriel, Stephen Healy, and Heather McLean all responded to the book there, raising important questions about feminist theory, black feminist theory, theorizing capitalism, and the utility of the idea of the commons.
The recipient of the Organization of American Historians’ 2017 David Montgomery Award for the best book on a topic in U.S. labor and working-class history, Deregulating Desire offers an empirically rich and beautifully written account of the politics of gender, sexuality and race in late 20th-century U.S. flight attendant organizing.
This review forum stems from an author-meets-critics session on Austin Zeiderman’s Endangered City: The Politics of Security and Risk in Bogotá and Nikhil Anand’s Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai. The session was organized by Asher Ghertner and held at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Boston, MA. The forum includes reviews by Malini Ranganathan, Diane Davis, and AbdouMaliq Simone, with an introduction by Asher Ghertner and responses from the authors.
This review forum stems from an author-meets-critics session on Timothy Stewart-Winter’s Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics, organized by David K. Seitz. The session was held at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in San Francisco.
A special review forum on Mustafa Dikeç’s Space, Politics and Aesthetics, published by Edinburgh University Press as part of its "Taking on the Political" book series. The review forum includes contributions by David Featherstone, Gillian Rose, Japhy Wilson, Mark Jackson, and Nigel Clark. The reviews are followed by a response from Mustafa Dikeç.
This book forum considers the insights and challenges of Jenna Loyd’s Health Rights Are Civil Rights: Peace and Justice Activism in Los Angeles, 1963-1978. Loyd is an intellectually expansive scholar whose work addresses a number of fields, including detention, immigration, prisons, militarism, and health.
This review forum follows from an author-meets-critics session on Bobby Benedicto’s Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene, organized by Natalie Oswin and held at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago.
This review forum on Sara Westin’s The Paradoxes of Planning: A Psycho-analytical Perspective originated in an author meets critics session that Christian Abrahamsson and I organized for the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Chicago earlier this year.
Ben Woodard’s On an Ungrounded Earth is an innovative work of philosophy with a powerful aesthetic allure. It is also a timely book situated at the intersection of two emerging trends in contemporary thought: so-called ‘speculative realism’ in Continental philosophy, and the ‘geological turn’ in the humanities and social sciences.
Sapana Doshi of the University of Arizona organized an author-meets-critics forum on Gupta’s 2012 Duke University Press book Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence and Poverty in India for the 2012 Association of American Geographers meeting in Los Angeles.
Meredith Raimondo and Lorena Muñoz each offer a review of Karen Tongson's Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries. They were part of an author-meets-critics panel organized by Jasbir Puar at the 2012 Association of American Geographers meeting in New York. Relocations was published in 2011 by New York University Press.
At the 2012 AAG conference in New York City, Michael Brown organized an author-meets-critics panel for Claire Rasmussen's 2011 book "The Autonomous Animal: Self-Governance and the Modern Subject". Read reviews by panelists Robert Lake and Matthew Wilson, and Claire's author response.
Michael Katz organized a symposium on Stephen Graham's 2011 book, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism at the 2011 annual meeting of the Social Science History Association in Boston. Read the reviews of panelists George Steinmetz, Alice O'Connor, and Jennifer Light.
Though not an exhaustive list, these are many of the main areas we cover.
Writings that critically engage the ongoing conditions of coloniality and its effects. Entries in this section may also speculate on intellectual, political and organizational tactics that work to resist coloniality, colonization and colonialism’s effects in the present.
Examines the evolving social, ecological, cultural and geopolitical impacts of energy systems and resource extraction, with particular emphasis on the spatial relationships that structure the extraction, production, distribution and consumption of energy and other natural resources and raw materials
Chronicles past, present, and potential impacts of technoscientific development on the production of space. Provides critical looks into how scientific disciplines and industries influence how we analyze, categorize, experience, interpret, navigate, and represent that which we call space.
Investigates the spatial implications of the mass production, consumption, and disposal of digital media. Core areas of study include the environmental impacts, industrial landscapes, infrastructures, political transformations, social activities, and subjectivities particular to the digital age.
Charts the role that maps and various other forms of geo-visualisation play in the production of space. Offers a critical forum for investigating older modes of cartographic representation as well as newer approaches to big data and the politics of algorithmic and other data-driven processes.
Investigates relations between policing (narrowly and broadly understood), incarceration, and the production of space and spatial knowledge. Borders, criminalized neighborhoods, detention centers, heavily securitized areas, internment camps, jails, prisons, rendition sites, and the spatial relations that they rely on and produce are explored as sites of power and subversion.