RGS-IBG 2013 Annual Conference Session: “Demanding the impossible: transgressing the frontiers of geography through anarchism”.

CFP RGS-IBG Annual Conference London, 28th – 30th August 2013

“Demanding the impossible: tImageransgressing the frontiers of geography through anarchism”


Richard J White (Sheffield Hallam University, UK);  Federico Ferretti (University of Geneva, Switzerland); Alexandre Gillet (University of Geneva, Switzerland); Marcelo Lopes de Souza (University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Philippe Pelletier (University of Lyon, France); Simon Springer (University of Victoria, Canada) and Colin C Williams (University of Sheffield, UK)

Sponsored by the Participatory Geographies Research Group

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!

 Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Anarchists’ criticism of political frontiers and boundaries. This includes the idea of frontier as metaphors (for example: frontiers between disciplines, frontiers between national ‘geographical schools’ as represented by the historians of Geography).
  • Anarchist spaces in the classroom: Radicalizing Pedagogy/ unlearning archy
  • Interdisciplinary studies and anarchism
  • Intersectionality and anarchism
  • Anarchist praxis: direct action, the importance of non-violence, autonomy and leaderlessness.
  • Anarchist descriptions and analysis of the crisis of neoliberalism/ capitalism
  • Conceptualising and enacting post-capitalist anarchist visions of work and organisation
  • Exploring the motivations of anarchists and the relations between affect, emotion and radical politics.
  • Anarchism and autonomous spaces
  • Anarchist politics of resistance and occupation
  • Anarchism and the concept of prefigurative politics
  • Understanding the complex role of space and place in anarchist praxis.
  • Anarchism and Utopianism
  • Anarchist critiques of the limited spatial frontiers of contemporary geographic inquiry
  • Geography, Anarchism and Internationalist political practices (e.g. relevant experiences from the 1872 ‘Anti-Authoritarian IWA’ to contemporary transnational movements).

We welcome relevant papers or alternative forms of presentation from within geography and wider inter-disciplinary departments, as well as sources from beyond the academy (particularly activist communities and other grassroot organisations).

If you would like to contribute to this session please send abstracts (250 word limit) or ideas to Richard J White (Richard.White@shu.ac.uk) by Wednesday 6th February 2013.



Breitbart, MM (2012) Foreword: Looking Backward/ Acting Forward, Antipode, Vol. 44(5) pp 1579-1590.

Critchley, S. (2011) The Anarchist Turn. Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies, http://www.anarchist-developments.org/index.php/adcs/article/view/30/25

Springer, S. Ince, A. Pickerill, J. Brown, G. and Barker, A.J. (2012) Reanimating Anarchist Geographies: A New Burst of Colour. Antipode Vol. 44(5), pp. 1501-1604


About Richard J White

I am currently employed as a Reader in Human Geography. Having completed my doctoral thesis at The University of Leicester (Department of Geography) I worked as Research Assistant at The University of Warwick (Institute for Employment Research). I joined Sheffield Hallam University as a Lecturer in Economic Geography in 2006, and was the Course Leader for the B.A. (Hons) Human Geography degree between 2013-2015. Teaching Interests I have a broad interest in many radical approaches within both Human Geography, and other related social sciences. My particular expertise explores alternative/ post-capitalist forms of work and organization; anarchist and dissident geographies; geographies of activism and resistance; and critical animal geographies.
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