The March for Our Lives, the Dakota Pipeline protests, the Idle No More movement, the Ferguson, Missouri protests, the Me Too movement, various teacher’s strikes, Black Lives Matters protests (including at Pride Parades), and the high profile resignations of commissioners from Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. In these instances (and many more in Canada, the US, and elsewhere), people are powerfully standing up and insisting on the need for progressive action. There is a spreading exhaustion with the status quo, an expanding desire on the Left for radical rather than incremental change. Cries of ‘Enough!’ can be heard frequently and loudly in all kinds of activist settings.
Further, many of these examples evidence the now widespread recognition in some activist worlds that no social justice issue is efficaciously approached as a single-issue. Consider gun violence, the issue at the heart of the March for our Lives. It is absolutely a political economic issue, as the NRA and its allies in government put profits ahead of people. It is also clearly a race, gender, and sexuality issue, as people of colour, women and sexual and gender minorities are the disproportionate victims of gun violence. In other words, economic inequality, toxic masculinity, settler colonialism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and racism all sustain the USA’s position as a world leader in gun deaths.
Critical/ radical geographers are of course extremely interested in these sorts of heartening, necessary, and long overdue efforts to speak truth to power. Moreover, through their scholarship, teaching, and activism, they are doubtless already contributing in all kinds of ways to the creation of a political field in which these sorts of strong and intersectional actions occur. To do so fully, effectively, and carefully, though, many recognize that we need our own moment of reckoning. And this moment has been coming for quite some time.
Since at least geography’s ‘cultural turn’ in the 1990s, positionality, the politics of knowledge production, the permeable boundaries between the cultural, the economic, the social and the political, and the imbrication of discourse and materiality have been key themes for many geographers. And the interventions of many ‘marginalized’ scholars have changed geography for the better such that today there are thriving literatures on critical race, postcolonial, Indigenous, queer, trans, and feminist geographies. Yet, the struggle continues. Epistemic narrowness and a lack of diversity mar the discipline, in both its mainstream and its ‘critical’ or ‘radical’ iterations, into the present. As Katz recently put it, “Geography is less white, less masculinist, less straight than it was in 1989, but the erasures, occlusions, mansplaining, and minimizing go on” (2017).
It is time to do geography differently. It is time to listen and support those who literally have skin in the game. We must diversify our discipline, through hiring and student recruitment practices, through panel composition, through editorial practices, through the assembly of research teams, and through the adjustment of research and citation practices. The politics of the institution may seem tedious and tiring and insulated from everyday life, but as ‘critical’ and ‘radical’ geographers we research and teach on life and death issues every day, and if we are to maximize our solidarities outside our institutions we must change them from within.
Contributions to this panel session will take the form of 5 minute interventions, to be focused on setting out ways in which contributors are working to make change through their research, teaching, service/leadership, and activism.
|Panelist||Michelle Daigle University of British Columbia||7|
|Panelist||Camilla Hawthorne University of California - Berkeley||7|
|Panelist||Megan Ybarra University of Washington||7|
|Panelist||Jack Gieseking University of Kentucky||7|
|Panelist||Andrew Curley University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill||7|
|Panelist||LaToya Eaves Middle Tennessee State University||7|
|Panelist||Debanuj DasGupta University of Connecticut||10|
|Panelist||Geraldine Pratt University Of British Columbia||10|
|Panelist||Ayona Datta King's College London||10|
|Panelist||Beverley Mullings Queen's University||10|
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