Rowman and Littlefield International

Transforming Capitalism series

Published on Tuesday 25 Oct 2016

The Transforming Capitalism book series provides a platform for the publication of path-breaking and interdisciplinary scholarship which seeks to understand and critique capitalism along four key lines: crisis, development, inequality, and resistance. Through this approach the series alerts us to how capitalism is always evolving and hints at how we could also transform capitalism itself through our own actions. The first publications in the series, discussed below, are an excellent example of the aims and scope of the series.

Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt

Praise for the trilogy:

‘Anarchism’s intersection with Geography is unavoidable and this collection of experiences, histories and manifestos enjoins discussion, inspiration and fascination.’

- James D. Sidaway, National University of Singapore

‘The essays gathered here document spatial practices that are decentralized and elegantly dis-organized – a series of sprawling spatial possibilities that stretch like a necklace of hope around the globe, from Israel and Argentina to Japan and Portugal, from the countryside to the city, and through a range of historical periods. Together, the practices recorded here prefigure a world animated always by love, autonomy, and revolt.’

- Jeff Ferrell, Texas Christian University and University of Kent

The first publications in the book series comprise a trilogy of volumes, edited by Simon Springer, Marcelo Lopes de Souza, and Richard White. With the overarching title of Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt, the collections are inspired by the renewed interest in the melding of anarchist and geographical thought. They seek to push new ideas further into the light by illuminating the kaleidoscopic range of geographies that become possible when exploring anarchist lines of flight.

Accordingly, the aims of the trilogy are to strengthen the contributions of both geography and its practitioners in articulating an explicitly anarchist praxis in seeking solutions to the very real human and other-than-human crises that are unfolding across the world today. The desire is not simply to push the boundaries, but to actively transgress the frontiers of contemporary geographical scholarship by encouraging the spirit of revolt. In moving confidently and constructively toward the production of anarchist spaces, the aim is to foster new geographical imaginations that energetically cultivate alternative spatial practices. In the context of transgressing geographical frontiers – whether employed as a concept, a metaphor, or as a point of empirical focus – three key areas of anarchist geographies are promoted, each constituting one of the books in the trilogy:

1) The Radicalization of Pedagogy

Pedagogy is central to geographical knowledge, where Kropotkin’s What Geography Ought to Be has significantly shaped the face of contemporary geographical thought. At the same time, anarchists have developed very different political imaginations than Marxists, where the importance of pedagogy has always been of primary importance. Pedagogy accordingly represents one of the key sites of contact where anarchist geographies can continue to inform and revitalize contemporary geographical thought. Anarchists have long been committed to bottom-up, ‘organic’ transformations of societies, subjectivities, and modes of organizing. For anarchists the importance of direct action and prefigurative politics have always taken precedence over concerns about the state, a focus that stems back to Max Stirner’s notion of insurrection in The Ego and Its Own as walking one’s own way, ‘rising up’ above government, religion, and other hierarchies – not necessarily to overthrow them, but to simply disregard these structures by taking control of one’s own individual life and creating alternatives on the ground. Thus, the relevance of pedagogy to anarchist praxis (understood in a broad sense, as in Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed) stems from its ability to guide a new way of thinking about the world and as a space that is able to foster transgression.

2) Theories of Resistance

Space is never a neutral ‘stage’ on which social actors play their roles, sometimes cooperating with each other, sometimes struggling against each other. Space is a product of interrelations, and is always under construction. Its co-constitutive role in the development of social relations is multiple and complex: a reference for identity-building and re-building; a material condition for existence and survival; a symbol and instrument of power. However, as much as space has been made instrumental for the purposes of heteronomy (from class exploitation to gender oppression to racial segregation), space (spatial re-organisation, spatial practices and spatial resources) is also a basic condition for human emancipation, i.e. for autonomy and freedom. Recognising the way space has been used for resistance, especially in those more specifically left-libertarian contexts, is important (from the early anarchist organising efforts in the 19th century, to the Paris Commune, to the early kibbutzim, to the makhnovitchina in Ukraine, to the socio-spatial revolution during the Spanish Civil War, to the contemporary re-birth of left-libertarian and sometimes specifically anarchist praxis among social movements such as Mexican Zapatistas). Here, a greater understanding of space can teach a great deal about both limits and potentialities, particularly in relation to the possibilities and tasks of re-purposing and re-structuring the built environment, changing images of place, and overcoming old and new boundaries of all sorts.

3) The Practice of Freedom

Without questioning the importance of anarchist socio-spatial experiments of the past, the fact is that the last two decades have seen a kind of re-birth of left-libertarian practices and principles (horizontality, self-management, decentralisation, and so on), that are not necessarily connected to the anarchist tradition in a strict sense. Many contemporary social movements and forms of protest (and certainly most of those that are particularly creative and innovative) present a clear left-libertarian ‘soul’. Examples of such practices of freedom abound, especially in Europe and the Americas, though there are some highly interesting examples in other continents as well, such as South Africa’s Abahlali base Mjondolo (literally ‘Movement of the Shack Dwellers’), particularly strong in Durban and Cape Town. Nowadays, emancipatory praxis is becoming gradually synonymous with direct action, horizontal decision-making and autonomy, and not with political parties and a ‘taking-statepower’ mentality. More than ever before, Marxist - and especially Leninist - methods and strategies have been placed under considerable suspicion. These developments create a range of important questions to consider, including: to what extent spatial practices have been consistently compatible with left-libertarian principles? To what extent can we say that anarchism and anarchists (or rather neo-anarchists, as well as libertarian autonomists) animate these movements, waves of protest, and forms of resistance? And what activities have been developed by these activists (in the realms of self-defence, production, culture etc.)?

In an age that is desperately in need of critical new directions, anarchist geographies exist at the crossroads of possibility and desire. By breathing new life into the inertia of the old, anarchism intrepidly explores vital alternatives to the stasis of hierarchical social relations through the geographical practice of mutual aid, voluntary association, direct action, horizontality, and self-management. In recent years a serious (re)turn toward anarchist thought and practice has begun to challenge and inspire scholars and activists to travel beyond the traditional frontiers of geographical knowledge, which have all too often served to reinforce the status quo and to limit our ideas and imaginations about what is both possible and practical. In realizing the potential of anarchist geographies there are ample opportunities for scholars to take us off the well-trodden paths and beyond the frontiers of contemporary radical geographical scholarship. Therefore, through the articulation and realization of the idea of transgression, it is hoped that many exciting directions, inspiring vistas, and reformulated territories will be opened up for scholars and activists to engage with.

Transforming Capitalism is rooted in the vibrant, broad and pluralistic debates spanning a range of approaches in a number of fields and disciplines. As such, it will appeal to scholars working in sociology, geography, cultural studies, international studies, development, social theory, politics, labour and welfare studies, economics, anthropology, law, and more. The series has at its core the assumption that the world is in various states of transformation, and that these transformations may build upon earlier paths of change and conflict while also potentially producing new forms of crisis, development, inequality, and resistance. The terms crisis, development, inequality, and resistance can be interpreted in a range of ways, and we are interested in publishing creative and innovative monographs across a range of fields, topics, and perspectives.

The series welcomes proposals on topics including, but not limited to:

  • The multiple forms of crisis which characterise capitalism – past, present, and future

  • Variegated forms and crises of social reproduction and gender regimes

  • Socio-economic restructuring and resistances at various levels (local, national, transnational)

  • Post/decolonial approaches to the study and critique of capitalism

  • Insurgent and other new forms of citizenship

  • Critical pedagogies and the potential for emancipatory transformations of knowledge

  • Economic subjectivity and the relationship between identity and capitalism

  • Social movements seeking another world to the present

  • Intersections of inequality, or the foregrounding of one form of inequality (for instance, gender, race, class), across a range of scales and cases

  • Authoritarian responses to crisis and the growing fragility of political authority

  • The neoliberalisation and commodification of nature

  • New imperialism(s) and the rise of global developmental liberalism

Please see the book series webpage for more details.