The Anarchist Roots of Geography: Toward Spatial Emancipation

By Simon Springer, James D Sidaway, Richard J White, Nicholas J Crane

The Anarchist Roots of Geography: Toward Spatial Emancipation advances several arguments. On the one hand, it wishes to recover and applaud the legacies of two anarchists who were also geographers—Kropotkin (1842– 1921) and Reclus (1830–1905)—and celebrate others. Then there is an argument for anarchism to be central to a reworked radical geography today and that Marxism has crowded out anarchist voices. There are also arguments about what anarchism might mean and how this involves space. Geography is represented as anarchic in itself as a discipline and in opening Springer seeks “to remind readers that geography has never had, and nor should it desire, a single disciplinary plan or pivot” and that periodic attempts to impose one have failed. … Springer’s book might therefore represent a coming of age for anarchist geography, making it harder for future texts on geographic thought to be judged adequate unless more care is taken with anarchist currents.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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  1. This reminds me of one reason I dislike nationalists: territorialism. The process of territorialization of political demesne has been a recipe for totalitarian sovereign states. Polities do not consist of rocks and streams, they consist of persons. There is no such thing as a ‘natural’ border and the actual boundaries of political units is actually the ambit of people who participate in its institutions. I do not believe in ‘national borders’, and not because of some anarchist principle, but because they are entirely fictional.

    On the anarchist side, however, it is ridiculous to claim that anyone has clear title to multicultural parking lot cities or the vast uninhabited hinterland that makes up most of the planet. Europe has densely populated areas where even the forests are worked private property, I can see a case for exclusion of immigrants there. But in the United States this is nonsense. On the other hand I see that some local communities definitely do have some kind of right of exclusion based on, not territory, but the desires of the persons already living there. Yet the concept of territorial sovereignty undermines this by declaring all such regions, equally with vast tracts of Federal forest lands, to be under the jurisdiction of the Constitution and the police apparatus.

    The ‘bordertarians’ fail because nation states and territorial sovereignty are fundamentally unlike private property and contract, and if anyone looked into the actual history of ancient China or medieval and classical Europe they will find that ‘muhBorders’ are actually a quite recent innovation. This is also paired with the nonsense that sovereignty should be indivisible, a pernicious outgrowth of Enlightenment rationalism that doesn’t like things to be organic and wants to draw straight lines over every map.

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