The war on Ebola

Originally posted on geographical imaginations:

ECONOMIST The war on Ebola

We’ve been here before – ‘wars’ on this and ‘wars’ on that.  It’s strange how reluctant states are to admit that their use of military violence (especially when it doesn’t involve ‘boots on the ground‘) isn’t really war at all – ‘overseas contingency operations’ is what the Pentagon once preferred, but I’ve lost count of how many linguistic somersaults they’ve performed since then to camouflage their campaigns – and yet how eager they are to declare everything else a war.

These tricks are double-edged.  While advanced militaries and their paymasters go to extraordinary linguistic lengths to mask the effects of their work, medical scientists have been busily appropriating the metaphorical terrain from which modern armies are in embarrassed retreat.

Yet all metaphors take us somewhere before they break down, and the ‘war on Ebola’ takes us more or less directly to the militarisation of the global response…

View original 4,170 more words

Makeshift City: Radical Infrastructure &the Politics of Squatting

Originally posted on synthetic_zero:

In this paper I explore the history of squatting in Berlin from the late 1960s to the present. The paper pays particular attention to the ways in which squatting and other occupation-based practices re-imagined the city as a space of refuge, gathering and subversion. If squatting came to represent a necessary protest against housing precarity, my main aim here is to show how it also served as a constituent protest for alternative ways of living together in increasingly divided and unequal urban settings. Drawing on extensive archival and ethnographic fieldwork, I explore how squatting became the basis for the composition of a radical domiciliary politics where the very practices of ‘occupation’ acted as both a precarious form of urban dwelling and as an informal autonomous approach to re-thinking the urban. As I hope to show, the micro-geographies of occupation established a different social ontology that moved beyond conventional formulations…

View original 97 more words

Dilip Gaonkar and the Phenomenology of the Multitude


An interesting rumination on the historical and contemporary meaning of the crowd and riots by Dilip Gaonkar. Here is a brief passage from Gaonkar’s “After the Fictions: Notes Towards a Phenomenology of the Multitude,” which you can read in full at e-flux:

The careers of the crowd as a social formation and rioting as a mode of collective agency have a parallel but not identical history. The crowd is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for any mob/riot to materialize. While the attitude towards rioting has remained steadfastly hostile, crowds are seen as unavoidable. Rioting, often viewed as politically motivated (although it does sometimes erupt in religious and recreational contexts), is denounced as having no “redeeming social value.” Crowds are a different matter. Modern capitalism, in its various phases from the mercantile to the financial, has made peace with crowds. Within the capitalist imaginary, crowds have progressed from being regarded as a necessary evil (the consumer crowd) to a source of wisdom (crowd sourcing). Moreover, the crowd ethos is considered an indispensable (and enhancing) part of the consuming experience. By contrast, the liberal democracy remains deeply fearful of crowds. From that perspective, there is something intrinsically “illiberal” about the crowd to the extent that it leads to the dissolution of the “individual.” Within the liberal imaginary, the individual is the bedrock of social ontology, moral responsibility, and economic calculation and the crowd jeopardizes all those invaluable assets. Every crowd is a potential mob and susceptible to rioting. Hence, the contemporary conjuncture (or political economy) is caught in an irresolvable aporia: coveting crowds and fearing riots. . .

The material reality of the people qua multitude cannot be scattered and settled into a matrix of multiple identities and roles offered by the associational life of civil society, nor into class solidarities, nor into the cultural identities of race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference. This confirms and discloses the fact that the category of people is a collective remainder, ever present and operative, something that exceeds all (real, imagined, and hailed) identities. People precede them both as a source and survive as the remainder as they pass through these identity forms.

Featured Image -- 406

Counterinsurgency and the Policing of Space in Ferguson

Society for Radical Geography, Spatial Theory, and Everyday Life:

Thanks to Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics for pointing us to this piece on the spatial politics of resistance and containment in Ferguson.

Originally posted on edge city:

(Editor’s Note: The following article was written by an individual member following a recent trip to Ferguson, MO and is the first of several analysis pieces that Edge City will be publishing in the coming weeks.)

For the last month or so we’ve all no doubt become familiar with the spectacular images of the ‘militarized’ policing of the Ferguson, MO uprisings following the murder of Mike Brown. We’ve seen the voluminous streams of tear gas cascading down upon protestors, the roving Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) carrying platoons of Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) clad officers, and the furtively stationed sniper posts dotting the diminutive strip-mall rooftops of West Florissant.


To this point much as been said about ‘police militarization’ and the effect this brute show of force had on the now-subsiding protests. Others have also documented and analyzed the more ‘soft’ forms of counterinsurgency currently being deployed to quell…

View original 2,793 more words

2015 Symposium CFP Announcement: “Inhabiting Containment”

We are pleased to announce the theme of our 2015 symposium, “Inhabiting Containment,” which will be held at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA on Friday, February 27, 2015 and feature a keynote address by Dr. Rashad Shabazz, Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Vermont. Please find our call for papers below and feel free to circulate widely!:

Society for Radical Geography, Spatial Theory, and Everyday Life Symposium 2015 CFP
Inhabiting Containment

Seeking to address the ongoing state violence against bodies of color in Gaza and Ferguson, MO, the Society for Radical Geography, Spatial Theory, and Everyday Life solicits abstracts for our 2015 symposium “Inhabiting Containment.” This symposium seeks work that addresses the spatiality of phenomena such as containment, racialization, and racialized-sexualized state aggression. The imprisonment and January release of CeCe McDonald, indigenous actions protesting the TransCanada Pipeline, the Israeli massacre of Gazans, the operationalization of racist policies to contain Ebola in West Africa, and the murders of black bodies in the U.S., such as Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, and Michael Brown, all demonstrate the ways that race, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity are often experienced as forms of embodied violence in the everyday. With that in mind, this symposium seeks to engage dialogues of containment—from interrogations of the prison-industrial complex and Gaza as the world’s largest open-air prison to current conversations in trans and feminist theory thinking through the body as container/space of containment.

Possible topics can include but are not limited to:

• Spatial analyses of intersectionality and racialized-sexualized state violence
• Spaces of protest—heterotopias, subtopias, and differential space
• Sensory experiences of race, gender, and containment/imprisonment
• The relationships between trans embodiment and the prison-industrial complex
• Explorations of non-places and/or abject space, such as sites of torture and detention
• Interrogations of geological intersections with geography and the anthropocene
• Ecologies of space
• The right to the city

Though we welcome submissions that deal generally with spatial theory, special consideration will be given to those abstracts specifically dealing with this year’s theme. We encourage abstracts from activists and academics at all stages of their research. This symposium is committed to producing sustained conversations and a collaborative environment for scholars and activists whose work engages our society’s specific interests in radical geography, spatial theory, and everyday life.

This year’s symposium will be held at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA on Friday, February 27, 2015 and will feature a keynote address by Dr. Rashad Shabazz, Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Vermont. Those interested may submit proposals of no more than 500 words to symposium co-organizers Tahereh Aghdasifar and Andrea Miller at by November 15, 2014. Presenters will be notified of their acceptance by December 15, 2014. For more information on the symposium and the Society for Radical Geography, Spatial Theory, and Everyday Life, see our website at and like us on Facebook at

Léopold Lambert on Gentrifying Fortresses


In a recent post on The Funambulist, Léopold Lambert discusses “a particularly blatant example of the way architecture does not simply create real estate value on a given land, but also organizes space in a defensive and antagonistic manner. One of gentrification’s characteristics consists in the fantasy of danger that gentrifying bodies have for their gentrified counterparts — hence the need for them to accelerate the process — and therefore requires from architecture to provide a semiotics of security.”

Today Is the Day!: “Queering the Quotidian” at Georgia State in Atlanta!

We are pleased to welcome presenters, attendees, and keynote speaker, Jen Jack Gieseking of the Digital and Computational Studies Initiative at Bowdoin College, to Georgia State University in Atlanta today for the Society for Radical Geography, Spatial Theory, and Everyday Life’s 2014 symposium, “Queering the Quotidian: Differential and Contested Spaces Within Neoliberalism.” For those of you who live close to the Atlanta area and were unable to register online, there is free day-of registration at the event.  Morning reception and sessions begin at 10:00am in Troy Moore Library. Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!