Practices of territorialization: municipalism and radical local politics

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (MDT)
Room: Johnson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Sophie Gonick, Lana Salman
Chairs: Sophie Gonick


How do social movements take on the question of territory as a terrain of struggle? What type of political projects do they engage in? How do they overcome opposition from state actors? How do their struggles remake territory? Recent research shows territory is not just a static geographic bounded space, but rather a dynamic political formation enabled by various techno-legal measurements and calculations of land and population. Much of this research however remains Euro-centric and privileges theorizing from the Global North and from within Western political theory. This session seeks to shift this conversation in two ways. Epistemologically, we are interested in notions of territory beyond Western political theory, be it from different geographies and/or different traditions of knowledge-production. Methodologically, rather than territory, we are interested in practices of territorialization defined broadly as the practices that take up and shape spaces of and for political contestation.
We are particularly interested in municipalsim as one such practice of territorialization. Coined by Murray Bookchin, municipalism “is construed as an organic politics, a politics that emerges from the base level of human consociation into the fullness of a genuine body politic and participatory forms of citizenship” (Bookchin, 1984, 6 emphasis in original). We are broadly interested in experiences that foreground a political-economy dimension to practices of territorialization and the obstacles those who engaged in these practices face and overcome. Examples we have in mind cross the North-South divide and include Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi, the Association for the Protection of the Oasis of Jemna in Tunisia, the remunicipalization of water in a variety of cities, community policing experiments in Mexico, the Spanish municipalist coalitions, the Italian municipalist experiments, and the Richmond Progressive Alliance among others. Whether they focus on building social solidarity economies, engage in agrarian struggles, or seek to politicize the housing question, common among these experiences are localized struggles are attempts to reshape territory while using it as a platform to make the struggles at hand legible. As Ruth & Russel (2018) show, these political practices change our understanding of democracy, who does politics, and the scale of transformation to build tans-local solidarities for a new internationalism.
We invite papers that build on original fieldwork to document cases of municipalism and other practices of territorialization. We are looking for case studies that showcase instances of radical politics articulated around specific questions of access to land, services, housing, a clean environment, or dignified livelihoods among others. Cases should also document resistance to these instances from centralized institutions, and any attempts to organize against and counter such centralizing trends. We encourage engagement with literatures from areas studies, and post-colonial theory that decenter notions of territory and place them within broader practices of territorialziaiton that cross the North-South divide.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Lana Salman*, University of California - Berkeley, Another world is possible: the state and its counter-territories in Tunisia 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Darren Patrick*, York University, Che Genere di Città? TransFeministQueer Autonomy and its Municipalist Possibilities 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Dan Furukawa Marques*, Université Laval, The Movement of Homeless Workers and the Construction of Political Communities 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Sophie Chamas*, Ms, Take Back the City: Community Organizing in Beirut 20 9:00 AM
Discussant Sophie Gonick New York University 20 9:20 AM

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