University of Georgia Press

Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation

Nik Heynen, Deborah Cowen, and Melissa W. Wright, Series Editors

Published by: University of Georgia Press

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Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation

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Accumulating Insecurity

Violence and Dispossession in the Making of Everyday Life

Shelley Feldman

Accumulating Insecurity examines the relationship between two vitally important contemporary phenomena: a fixation on security that justifies global military engagements and the militarization of civilian life, and the dramatic increase in day-to-day insecurity associated with contemporary crises in health care, housing, incarceration, personal debt, and unemployment.

Contributors to the volume explore how violence is used to maintain conditions for accumulating capital. Across world regions violence is manifested in the increasingly strained, often terrifying, circumstances in which people struggle to socially reproduce themselves. Security is often sought through armaments and containment, which can lead to the impoverishment rather than the nourishment of laboring bodies. Under increasingly precarious conditions, governments oversee the movements of people, rather than scrutinize and regulate the highly volatile movements of capital. They often do so through practices that condone dispossession in the name of economic and political security.

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Begging as a Path to Progress

Indigenous Women and Children and the Struggle for Ecuador's Urban Spaces

Kate Swanson

In 1992, Calhuasí, an isolated Andean town, got its first road. Newly connected to Ecuador’s large cities, Calhuasí experienced rapid social-spatial change, which Kate Swanson richly describes in Begging as a Path to Progress.

Based on nineteen months of fieldwork, Swanson’s study pays particular attention to the ideas and practices surrounding youth. While begging seems to be inconsistent with—or even an affront to—ideas about childhood in the developed world, Swanson demonstrates that the majority of income earned from begging goes toward funding Ecuadorian children’s educations in hopes of securing more prosperous futures.

Examining beggars’ organized migration networks, as well as the degree to which children can express agency and fulfill personal ambitions through begging, Swanson argues that Calhuasí’s beggars are capable of canny engagement with the forces of change. She also shows how frequent movement between rural and urban Ecuador has altered both, masculinizing the countryside and complicating the Ecuadorian conflation of whiteness and cities. Finally, her study unpacks ongoing conflicts over programs to “clean up” Quito and other major cities, noting that revanchist efforts have had multiple effects—spurring more dangerous transnational migration, for example, while also providing some women and children with tourist-friendly local spaces in which to sell a notion of Andean authenticity.

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Beyond Walls and Cages

Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis

Jenna M. Loyd

The crisis of borders and prisons can be seen starkly in statistics. In 2011 some 1,500 migrants died trying to enter Europe, and the United States deported nearly 400,000 and imprisoned some 2.3 million people—more than at any other time in history. International borders are increasingly militarized places embedded within domestic policing and imprisonment and entwined with expanding prison-industrial complexes. Beyond Walls and Cages offers scholarly and activist perspectives on these issues and explores how the international community can move toward a more humane future.

Working at a range of geographic scales and locations, contributors examine concrete and ideological connections among prisons, migration policing and detention, border fortification, and militarization. They challenge the idea that prisons and borders create safety, security, and order, showing that they can be forms of coercive mobility that separate loved ones, disempower communities, and increase shared harms of poverty. Walls and cages can also fortify wealth and power inequalities, racism, and gender and sexual oppression.

As governments increasingly rely on criminalization and violent measures of exclusion and containment, strategies for achieving change are essential. Beyond Walls and Cages develops abolitionist, no borders, and decolonial analyses and methods for social change, showing how seemingly disconnected forms of state violence are interconnected. Creating a more just and free world—whether in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands, the Morocco-Spain region, South Africa, Montana, or Philadelphia—requires that people who are most affected become central to building alternatives to global crosscurrents of criminalization and militarization.

Contributors: Olga Aksyutina, Stokely Baksh, Cynthia Bejarano, Anne Bonds, Borderlands Autonomist, Collective, Andrew Burridge, Irina Contreras, Renee Feltz, Luis A. Fernandez, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Amy Gottlieb, Gael Guevara, Zoe Hammer, Julianne Hing, Subhash Kateel, Jodie M. Lawston, Bob Libal, Jenna M. Loyd, Lauren Martin, Laura McTighe, Matt Mitchelson, Maria Cristina Morales, Alison Mountz, Ruben R. Murillo, Joseph Nevins, Nicole Porter, Joshua M. Price, Said Saddiki, Micol Seigel, Rashad Shabazz, Christopher Stenken, Proma Tagore, Margo Tamez, Elizabeth Vargas, Monica W. Varsanyi, Mariana Viturro, Harsha Walia, Seth Freed Wessler.

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Black, White, and Green

Farmers Markets, Race, and the Green Economy

Alison Hope Alkon

Farmers markets are much more than places to buy produce. According to advocates for sustainable food systems, they are also places to “vote with your fork” for environmental protection, vibrant communities, and strong local economies. Farmers markets have become essential to the movement for food-system reform and are a shining example of a growing green economy where consumers can shop their way to social change.

Black, White, and Green brings new energy to this topic by exploring dimensions of race and class as they relate to farmers markets and the green economy. With a focus on two Bay Area markets—one in the primarily white neighborhood of North Berkeley, and the other in largely black West Oakland—Alison Hope Alkon investigates the possibilities for social and environmental change embodied by farmers markets and the green economy.

Drawing on ethnographic and historical sources, Alkon describes the meanings that farmers market managers, vendors, and consumers attribute to the buying and selling of local organic food, and the ways that those meanings are raced and classed. She mobilizes this research to understand how the green economy fosters visions of social change that are compatible with economic growth while marginalizing those that are not.

Black, White, and Green is one of the first books to carefully theorize the green economy, to examine the racial dynamics of food politics, and to approach issues of food access from an environmental-justice perspective. In a practical sense, Alkon offers an empathetic critique of a newly popular strategy for social change, highlighting both its strengths and limitations.

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Bloomberg's New York

Class and Governance in the Luxury City

Julian Brash

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg claims to run the city like a business. In Bloomberg’s New York, Julian Brash applies methods from anthropology, geography, and other social science disciplines to examine what that means. He describes the mayor’s attitude toward governance as the Bloomberg Way—a philosophy that holds up the mayor as CEO, government as a private corporation, desirable residents and businesses as customers and clients, and the city itself as a product to be branded and marketed as a luxury good.
 
Commonly represented as pragmatic and nonideological, the Bloomberg Way, Brash argues, is in fact an ambitious reformulation of neoliberal governance that advances specific class interests. He considers the implications of this in a blow-by-blow account of the debate over the Hudson Yards plan, which aimed to transform Manhattan’s far west side into the city’s next great high-end district. Bringing this plan to fruition proved surprisingly difficult as activists and entrenched interests pushed back against the Bloomberg administration, suggesting that despite Bloomberg’s success in redrawing the rules of urban governance, older political arrangements—and opportunities for social justice—remain.

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Company Towns in the Americas

Landscape, Power, and Working-Class Communities

Edited by Oliver J. Dinius and Angela Vergara

Company towns were the spatial manifestation of a social ideology and an economic rationale. The contributors to this volume show how national politics, social protest, and local culture transformed those founding ideologies by examining the histories of company towns in six countries: Argentina (Firmat), Brazil (Volta Redonda, Santos, Fordlândia), Canada (Sudbury), Chile (El Salvador), Mexico (Santa Rosa, Río Blanco), and the United States (Anaconda, Kellogg, and Sunflower City).
 
Company towns across the Americas played similar economic and social roles. They advanced the frontiers of industrial capitalism and became powerful symbols of modernity. They expanded national economies by supporting extractive industries on thinly settled frontiers and, as a result, brought more land, natural resources, and people under the control of corporations. U.S. multinational companies exported ideas about work discipline, race, and gender to Latin America as they established company towns there to extend their economic reach. Employers indeed shaped social relations in these company towns through education, welfare, and leisure programs, but these essays also show how working-class communities reshaped these programs to serve their needs.
 
The editors’ introduction and a theoretical essay by labor geographer Andrew Herod provide the context for the case studies and illuminate how the company town serves as a window into both the comparative and transnational histories of labor under industrial capitalism.

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Development, Security, and Aid

Geopolitics and Geoeconomics at the U.S. Agency for International Development

Jamey Essex

In Development, Security, and Aid Jamey Essex offers a sophisticated study of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), examining the separate but intertwined discourses of geopolitics and geoeconomics.

Geopolitics concentrates on territory, borders, and strategic political and military positioning within the international state system. Geoeconomics emphasizes economic power, growth, and connectedness within a global, and supposedly borderless, system. Both discourses have strongly influenced the strategies of USAID and the views of American policy makers, bureaucrats, and business leaders toward international development. Providing a unique geographical analysis of American development policy, Essex details USAID's establishment in 1961 and traces the agency's growth from the Cold War into an era of neoliberal globalization up to and beyond 9/11, the global war on terror, and the looming age of austerity.

USAID promotes improvement for millions by providing emergency assistance and support for long-term economic and social development. Yet the agency's humanitarian efforts are strongly influenced, and often trumped, by its mandate to advance American foreign policies. As a site of, a strategy for, and an agent in the making of geopolitics and geoeconomics, USAID, Essex argues, has often struggled to reconcile its many institutional mandates and objectives. The agency has always occupied a precarious political position, one that is increasingly marked by the strong influence of military, corporate, and foreign-policy institutions in American development strategy.

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The Empires' Edge

Militarization, Resistance, and Transcending Hegemony in the Pacific

Sasha Davis

In the past decade the Asia-Pacific region has become a focus of international politics and military strategies. Due to China’s rising economic and military strength, North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile launches, tense international disputes over small island groups in the seas around Asia, and the United States pivoting a majority of its military forces to the region, the islands of the western Pacific have increasingly become the center of global attention. While the Pacific is a cur- rent hotbed of geopolitical rivalry and intense militarization, the region is also something else: a homeland to the hundreds of millions of people that inhabit it. Based on a decade of research in the region, The Empires’ Edge examines the tremendous damage the militarization of the Pacific has wrought on its people and environments. Furthermore, Davis details how contemporary social movements in this region are affecting global geopolitics by challenging the military use of Pacific islands and by developing a demilitarized view of security based on affinity, mutual aid, and international solidarity. Through an examination of “sacrificed” is- lands from across the region—including Bikini Atoll, Okinawa, Hawai‘i, and Guam—The Empires’ Edge makes the case that the great political contest of the twenty-first century is not about which country gets hegemony in a global system but rather about the choice be- tween perpetuating a system of international relations based on domination or pursuing a more egalitarian and cooperative future.

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Faith Based

Religious Neoliberalism and the Politics of Welfare in the United States

Jason Hackworth

Faith Based explores how the Religious Right has supported neoliberalism in the United States, bringing a particular focus to welfare—an arena where conservative Protestant politics and neoliberal economic ideas come together most clearly. Through case studies of gospel rescue missions, Habitat for Humanity, and religious charities in post-Katrina New Orleans, Jason Hackworth describes both the theory and practice of faith-based welfare, revealing fundamental tensions between the religious and economic wings of the conservative movement.

Hackworth begins by tracing the fusion of evangelical religious conservatism and promarket, antigovernment activism, which resulted in what he calls “religious neoliberalism.” He argues that neoliberalism—the ideological sanctification of private property, the individual, and antistatist politics—has rarely been popular enough on its own to promote wide change. Rather, neoliberals gain the most traction when they align their efforts with other discourses and ideas. The promotion of faith-based alternatives to welfare is a classic case of coalition building on the Right. Evangelicals get to provide social services in line with Biblical tenets, while opponents of big government chip away at the public safety net.

Though religious neoliberalism is most closely associated with George W. Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the idea predates Bush and continues to hold sway in the Obama administration. Despite its success, however, Hackworth contends that religious neoliberalism remains an uneasy alliance—a fusion that has been tested and frayed by recent events.

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Fields and Streams

Stream Restoration, Neoliberalism, and the Future of Environmental Science

Rebecca Lave

Examining the science of stream restoration, Rebecca Lave argues that the neoliberal emphasis on the privatization and commercialization of knowledge has fundamentally changed the way that science is funded, organized, and viewed in the United States.

Stream restoration science and practice is in a startling state. The most widely respected expert in the field, Dave Rosgen, is a private consultant with relatively little formal scientific training. Since the mid-1990s, many academic and federal agency–based scientists have denounced Rosgen as a charlatan and a hack. Despite this, Rosgen’s Natural Channel Design approach, classification system, and short-course series are not only accepted but are viewed as more legitimate than academically produced knowledge and training. Rosgen’s methods are now promoted by federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as by resource agencies in dozens of states.

Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Lave demonstrates that the primary cause of Rosgen’s success is neither the method nor the man but is instead the assignment of a new legitimacy to scientific claims developed outside the academy, concurrent with academic scientists’ decreasing ability to defend their turf. What is at stake in the Rosgen wars, argues Lave, is not just the ecological health of our rivers and streams but the very future of environmental science.

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