Author-Meets-More-or-Less-Friendlies: The Priority of Injustice at AAG 2018

I’m delighted to announce that the very wonderful Michael Samers has arranged an Author Meets Critics session on The Priority of Injustice, my new book (did I mention that?) at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in New Orleans in April. It’s a great panel, with Joshua Barkan (U. of Georgia), Jennifer Fluri (U. of Colorado, Boulder), Leila Harris (UBC), and Kirsi Kallio (University of Tampere) all commenting on the book. The session is sponsored by AAG’s Political Geography Specialty Group and Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights Specialty Group. There’s a nice symmetry about the prospect of discussing the book in New Orleans – the last time the conference was there, in 2003, I presented a paper on theories of radical democracy that was my first post-Culture and Democracy effort at articulating the limits of broadly post-structuralist approaches to that topic, an effort that led eventually to the shape of The Priority of Injustice (yes, I’m a slow thinker).

Here’s the pitch for the session, a somewhat revised version of the cover blurb for the book itself:

“In The Priority of Injustice, Clive Barnett challenges conventional ways of thinking about the spaces of democratic politics. In geography and related disciplines, debates about democracy have become trapped around a set of oppositions between deliberative and agonistic theories, in which the promotion of participatory experiments runs alongside widespread protestations about the post-political tendencies of contemporary events. Interrupting the broadly shared romanticization of spaces of assembly, public protest, and the street in these debates, Barnett unpacks the philosophical assumptions about space and time that underlie competing understandings of the sources of political conflict. Rather than developing ideal theories of democracy or ontological accounts of proper politics, he proposes an ordinary style of analysis that focuses on how experiences of injustice and demands for recognition, redress, and repair are articulated and processed across various spaces.

This Author-Meets-Critics panel brings Barnett into conversation with interlocutors with expertise in areas including environmental politics, feminist geographies, legal geography and political geography. Panellists will include Joshua Barkan, Jennifer Fluri, Leila Harris, and Kirsi Pauliina Kallio. Clive Barnett will respond to the critics and take questions from the audience.”

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Radical Democracy

My previously advertised co-authored paper with Gary Bridge, Geographies of Radical Democracy, is now published for ‘real’, in print, in the latest issue of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. We have been sent a whole load of off-prints of the article – a long time since I have received any of those, it’s quite quaint really. Let me know if you want one!

Here is the abstract, again:

“There is significant interest in democracy in contemporary human geography. Theoretically, this interest has been most strongly influenced by poststructuralist theories of radical democracy and associated ontologies of relational spatiality. These emphasize a priori understandings of the spaces of democratic politics, ones that focus on marginal spaces and the destabilization of established patterns. This article develops an alternative account of the spaces of democratic politics that seeks to move beyond the stylized contrast of poststructuralist agonism and liberal consensualism. This alternative draws into focus the spatial dimensions of philosophical pragmatism and the relevance of this tradition for thinking about the geographies of democracy. In particular, the geographical relevance of pragmatism lies in the distinctive inflection of the all-affected principle and of the rationalities of problem solving. Drawing on John Dewey’s work, a conceptualization of transactional space is developed to reconfigure understandings of the agonistics of participation as well as the experimental institutionalization of democratic will. The difference that a pragmatist approach makes to understandings of the geographies of democracy is explored in relation to transnational and urban politics.”

Geographies of radical democracy

For anyone interested in this sort of thing, I have a new paper, co-written with Gary Bridge, just published on-line in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, which addresses how best to theorise about the relationship between democracy and geography. It develops the idea of agonistic pragmatism, and the notion of transactional space, and explores how the idea of ‘all affected interests’ may, or may not, provide the grounds for rethinking this relationship. It’s an attempt to expand a little the range of reference points, in geography and related fields, for discussions of ‘radical democracy’. You can access a pre-publication draft of the paper here, and the abstract is below:

“There is significant interest in democracy in contemporary human geography. Theoretically, this interest has been most strongly influenced by poststructuralist theories of radical democracy and associated ontologies of relational spatiality. These emphasize a priori understandings of the spaces of democratic politics, ones that focus on marginal spaces and the destabilization of established patterns. This article develops an alternative account of the spaces of democratic politics that seeks to move beyond the stylized contrast of poststructuralist agonism and liberal consensualism. This alternative draws into focus the spatial dimensions of philosophical pragmatism and the relevance of this tradition for thinking about the geographies of democracy. In particular, the geographical relevance of pragmatism lies in the distinctive inflection of the all-affected principle and of the rationalities of problem solving. Drawing on John Dewey’s work, a conceptualization of transactional space is developed to reconfigure understandings of the agonistics of participation as well as the experimental institutionalization of democratic will. The difference that a pragmatist approach makes to understandings of the geographies of democracy is explored in relation to transnational and urban politics.”