Nietzsche: become a Yes-sayer

I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.

–Nietzsche, Gay Science, 276.

As someone who has spent some time accusing those who accuse, and feeling funny about the irony, I am glad to have this reminder. In the chapter linked above, I complain that:

As theorists of neoliberalism, we can only sing in the key of critique. We meticulously record and discuss its crimes and contradictions. When we imagine the world we want instead, we can only speak in terms of not-neoliberalism, of canceling out the current political-economic regime. When we act, we can only act in the register of protest, resistance, contestation, and refusal—of struggle against neoliberalism. We turn our faces and our bodies toward neoliberalism, it occupies the entirety of our vision and our imagination, we bathe in its dark light, and we can think only of blocking it, disrupting it, and, one day, in our fondest dreams, causing it to collapse.

I think that’s all true, and I do think we need to stop singing in the key of critique. But at the same time, in that passage I am complaining, accusing those who accuse. What would it mean to stop complaining altogether, to start “looking away,” to learn to focus on and say “Yes” to what we desire? How can we become, some day, “only a Yes-sayer”?

Pragmatism Conference, Queen Mary

Queen Mary, University of London is pleased to be hosting an international conference on Human Geography and the Pragmatic Tradition: May 23 and 24 2017

This international conference examines the potential for philosophical pragmatism to augment scholarship in the discipline of human geography. It is some time since geographers created the space needed to foster collective reflection about the potential contribution of this tradition of thought for the discipline. Previous efforts to do this have generated a strong legacy for renewing debate (see, e.g., the special issue of Geoforum, edited by Smith and Wood, 2008). We seek to move this conversation forward through an incisive engagement with pragmatist understandings and their application in the discipline of human geography today. The first day will end with a public lecture, given by QMUL’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Professor Robert Lake (Rutgers University, USA) on the theme of Hope for democracy: Pragmatism Between Populism and Expertise.

The preliminary schedule is copied below as I can’t attach it. Spaces are limited and need to be booked via Eventbrite here:

Any queries, please get in touch. Many thanks.



23-24 May 2017 at Queen Mary University of London, Graduate Centre Room 601

TUESDAY 23rd MAY 2017

9:00 – 9:30 Welcome and Introductions

9:30 – 11:00 Session 1. Pragmatist Ontologies

Gary Bridge, Geography & Planning, Cardiff University, UK

“Situating spatial transitions: Dewey and the uncertainties of life”

Ihnjinette Jon, Urban Planning & Design, University of Washington, US

“Seeking for a ‘moment,’ not the truth: Pragmatism and contemporary planning theory”

Meg Holden, Urban Studies & Geography, Simon Fraser University, CA

“Why the cash value of contemporary pragmatism for geography depends on more than its materialism”

11:00 – 11:10 Coffee

11:10 – 12:40 Session 2. Pragmatist Processes

Owain Jones, Bath Spa University, UK

“Pragmatism and local methods for creative (geographical) inquiry”

Klaus Geiselhart, Institut for Geographie, Friedrich-Alexander Universitat, Germany

“Social criticism? Sure, but how? Opposition and mediation as socio-political attitudes”

Trevor Barnes, Geography, University of British Columbia, CA

“What geographers talk about when they talk about talk”

12:40 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 3:00 Session 3. Pragmatism and Feminism/Rights

Susan Saegert, Geography & Environmental Psychology, CUNY, US

“Embodied inequalities: Can we go beyond the geographies and epistemologies of ignorance?”

Nichola Wood, Geography, University of Leeds, UK

“Pragmatism and feminism: The women of Hull House”

Joe Hoover, Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London, UK

“Performative rights and situationist ethics”

3:00 – 3:10 Tea

3:10 – 5:10 Session 4. Pragmatism and Democracy

Malcolm Cutchin, Health Care Sciences, Wayne State University, US

“Habits of social inquiry and reconstruction: A Deweyan vision of democracy, imagination, and human geography”

Jane Wills and Liam Harney, Geography, Queen Mary University of London, UK

“Pragmatism, place, publics, and people”

Laura Cesafsky, Geography, Environment & Society, University of Minnesota, US

“Of footholds and stages: Democratic subjectification in Dewey and Ranciere”

Crispian Fuller, Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, UK

“Mead, urban political theory and the political subject”

6:00 – 8:00 Public Lecture

Robert Lake, Geography and Urban Planning, Rutgers University, US

“Hope for Democracy: Pragmatism between populism and expertise”


9:30 – 11:00 Session 5. Pragmatism and Political Economy

Jamie Gough, Urban Studies & Planning, University of Sheffield, UK

“Political economy and pragmatism: Brexit, xenophobia, and left strategy”

Alireza Farahani, Geography, Clark University, US

“Exploring possibilities for a new encounter in the grounds of development”

Patrick Heidkamp, Southern Connecticut State University, US

“Toward a critical pragmatist approach to an (environmental) economic geography”

11:00 – 11:10 Coffee

11:10 – 12:40 Session 6. Pragmatism, Geography, and Justice

Daniel Esser, School of International Service, American University, US

“Disembedding Dewey: Pragmatism beyond modernity?

Alice Huff, Geography, UCLA, US

“Conflict and moral inquiry: Negotiating difference in New Orleans neighborhood schooling struggles”

Richard Nunes, Real Estate & Planning, University of Reading, UK

“Pragmatism and justice: From critical pragmatism to transformative pragmatism”

12:40 – 2:00 Lunch, Conference Review and Discussion of Next Steps

CFP: Digital Power, Decolonizing Life

*Final CfP*: Digital Power, Decolonising Life
RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Royal Geographical Society, London

Wednesday 30 August – Friday 1 September 2017

Sponsored by the Digital Geographies Working Group
Call for Papers (Deadline Monday 6th February 2017)
Convenors: Clancy Wilmott (University of Manchester), Sam Hind (University of Warwick), Michael Duggan (Royal Holloway, University of London)

This session invites submissions that explore the ‘decolonising’ (Ngugi 1986, Betts 1998, Smith 1999) possibilities of lived, digital experiences. From migrant workers in the gig economy, to software developers in the tech industry, and from the escalators of Hong Kong, to the estates of North London, digital lives are being increasingly shaped by discriminatory practices, protocols, infrastructures and politics (Nakamura 2009, Noble 2013; 2017, Edelman et al. 2016). These experiences stretch across, and so doing renegotiate spatial distinctions between global North/South, centre/periphery and urban/rural (Jacobs, 1996, Bishop et al. 2003). Whilst such techno-governmental assemblages may shape everyday decisions, movements and bodily practices, they are executed through an often hidden web of procedural, algorithmic, cartographic, or calculative means, often developed through or by colonial processes of governmentality, territorialisation, sovereignty and order. At present, digital life for many remains resolutely, undeniably and unceasingly ‘colonised’ – both in everyday and spectacular variations; despite the fading, and always likely improbable, emancipatory gains from new digital platforms, data sources, initiatives and organizations.

This session invites proposals providing empirical, methodological and conceptual strategies to ‘decolonise the digital’ that are intended to echo and reverberate around historical calls to ‘decolonise the mind’ (Ngugi 1986), and more contemporary efforts to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ (Kamanzi 2015, Shay 2015; 2016). It seeks to give a platform to a multitude of decolonising counterpoints to prevailing digital beliefs, practices, narratives, pitches and projects that have further entrenched privileged, western forms of geographical knowledge-making. We actively seek a range of presentations beyond the academic conference paper. These may include (but are not limited to): activist engagements, short films, ‘playtests’, artistic demonstrations, interactive contributions, playful presentations, and poetry performances, as well as traditional ‘academic’ papers. Interdisciplinary, and multi-author collaborations are also encouraged.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Digital workplace politics
Digital labour and the gig economy
Digital navigation, risk, and safety
Cartographic order, bordering and control
Digital infrastructures, institutions and organization(s)
Data and metrics
Algorithmic power and protocol
Security practices of sensing, screening, sorting, vetting
Digital discrimination, injustice, law
Digital epistemologies and ontologies
Activism, protest, ethics and emancipation
Digital futures and speculative politics

Please submit abstracts (250 words max) to Sam Hind (, along with a title and author details. Deadline is Monday 6th February, 2017.
For conference and registration details, see:

CFP: Quiet Social Movements


AAG 2017 – April 5-9, Boston

Quiet Social Movements & Everyday Life in the Urban Global South: Towards New Geographies of Social Change

Chair: Linda Peake, York University

Discussant: Sara Koopman, York University & University of Tempere

Organizers: Susmita Rishi, University of Washington, Seattle, Amy Piedalue, Australia India Institute and University of Melbourne

Popular and academic attention to social movements and activism often hinges on visible events or actions (i.e. street protests, legal reform efforts, organizational manifestos, etc.), and/or the efforts of marginalized peoples to make visible forms of oppression, violence, and suffering that continually sink beneath the surface of public attention or action. Activism in this context refers to any activity that “aims to engender change in people’s lives” and as an antithesis to “passivity”, includes many kinds of activities from survival strategies and resistance to sustained forms of collective action and social movements (Bayat, 2000). As Koopman (2015) establishes, feminist geographers have advanced the study of social movements and activism through a critical engagement with the politics of everyday life. This work emphasizes the significance of “small p” politics and the ways in which subjects’ lived experiences shape and are shaped by power – including in intimate spaces (like the home) and through mundane encounters with social institutions (from the family to the market and beyond). Geographies of social movements also specifically attend to the ways in which place and space shape processes and ‘terrains’ of resistance (Routledge 1994). Writing in the context of social movements and social development in the Middle East, Asef Bayat (1997, 2000) defines six types of activism: urban mass protests, trade unionism, community activism, social Islamism, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and quiet encroachment. In this panel, we aim to unpack and build upon these themes and to draw concentrated attention to quieter forms of social movement and activism, which are often intentionally and carefully embedded within place and ‘community’ and extend this analysis to the rest of the urban global South.

Further in this panel we want to pay particularly attention to the “quiet encroachment” type of activism and social movements where individuals, families and communities come together to bring about change in their everyday lives which may or may not fit into the conventional definition of social movements. We are interested in the ways in which such movements might demonstrate the agency and creative organizing of marginalized actors, while simultaneously pointing to the limitations of mainstream social and political organizing that may too easily be hijacked or co-opted in ways that reproduce marginality and suffering. Following Roy (2015) and Bayat (2013), amongst others, we also aim to elicit new narratives of social change in the global South that are not limited by the application of Western paradigms of failed states and reform-resistant societies, but instead explore the place-based modes of everyday social and political change operating in and through the global South.  In this regard, we also encourage potential panelists to think of the global South as a relational category rather than a binary term in opposition to the global North. Rather than defining the global South as a geographical category characterized by the location of a place on the globe (Sparke 2007), we conceptualize the global South as a non-cohesive set of spaces marked by historical marginalization, deprivation, and lack of access to resources, spaces which are simultaneously characterized by innovation, ingenuity and resistance to oppression.

This reorientation toward ‘quiet social movements’ in the urban global South opens the field of study beyond publicly visible social movements that follow a model of street protest and mass gathering and resistance, to consider more closely those more intimate social change efforts happening across cities in the global South – efforts which may be quiet and small in scale, and focus on small incremental change in the everyday lives of the community. While the actors in these movements might not always imagine themselves to be part of social movements, such ‘quiet movements’ may also be more numerous and in some cases bring about more substantive change in people’s everyday lives.

We seek panelists who through their empirical and theoretical research and interests can speak to the above issues, covering topics that may include, but are not limited to:

  • ‘Quiet encroachment of the weak’ in the urban global South,
  • ‘Invisible’ everyday social change,
  • Grassroots organizing at the margins of formal protest,
  • Community-based women’s organizing against intimate violence,
  • Conflict resolution and community-based peace building work,
  • Marginalized people’s movements,
  • Alternative protest strategies and modes of everyday resistance,

Please send enquiries and short abstracts before 7th October, 2016 to Amy Piedalue ( and Susmita Rishi (  We will create a panel of 4-6 scholars whose work intersects these questions. While the style of format will be a panel conversation, with short presentations (5-7 mins) by each author and then discussion, we will ask participants to send (short) papers in advance. It is our aim to eventually curate a special edition from the papers presented at the panel. Once we’ve selected abstracts that will be part of the panel, we will be approaching two Urban Geography journals with the proposal for the special edition.


Bayat, A (1997). Street politics: Poor people’s movements in Iran. New York: Columbia University Press.

Bayat, A (2000). From ‘Dangerous Classes’ to ‘Quiet Rebels’: Politics of the Urban Subaltern in the Global South. International Sociology 15 (3), 533-57.

Bayat, A (2013). Life as Politics How Ordinary People Change the Middle East, Second Edition. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

Koopman, S (2015). Social Movements in The Wiley Blackwell companion to political geography (Second ed., Wiley-Blackwell companions to geography). eds. Agnew, J., Mamadouh, Virginie, Secor, Anna Jean, & Sharp, Joanne P. Chichester, UK; Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Routledge, P. (1994). Backstreets, barricades, and blackouts: Urban terrains of resistance in Nepal. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 12(5): 559–578.

Roy, A (2015). Introduction: The Aporias of Poverty in Territories of poverty rethinking North and South (Geographies of justice and social transformation; 24). eds. Roy, A., & Crane, Emma Shaw. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Sparke, M (2007). Everywhere but Always Somewhere: Critical Geographies of the Global South. The Global South, 1(1), 117-126.

New issue of ACME is out

From the editors:

The newest issue of ACME (15.3) has just been published! It features the amazing RGS-IBG ACME Lecture from Parvati Raghuram, a Themed Section on “The Housing Question Revisited” that includes a transcript of one of Neil Smith’s final presentations, delivered at the AAG Annual Meeting in 2012, and great articles from Martina Tazzioli and Joaquin Villanueva, Pablo Benson, and Martin Cobian. Enjoy!
 ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies
Volume 15, Issue 3, 2016



Locating Care Ethics Beyond the Global North
Parvati Raghuram, 511-533

Capturing Urban Change: Contrasts, Lapses, and Contradictions
Joaquin Villanueva, Pablo Benson, Martin Cobian, 534-560

Eurosur, Humanitarian Visibility and (nearly) Real-Time Mapping in the Mediterranean.
Martina Tazzioli, 561-579

Themed Section – The Housing Question Revisited

Introduction: The Housing Question Revisited
Henrik Gutzon Larsen, Anders Lund Hansen, Gordon MacLeod, Tom Slater, 580-589

Community Land Trusts – a radical or reformist response to The Housing Question today?
Mike Rowe, Udi Engelsman, Alan Southern, 590-615

Engels in the Crescent City: Revisiting the Housing Question in post-Katrina New Orleans
Chris Herring, Emily Rosenman, 616-638

Gender and the Housing “Questions” in Taiwan
Yi-Ling Chen, 639-658

Rereading “The Housing Question” in Light of the Foreclosure Crisis
Susan Saegert, 659-678

The Housing Question Revisited
Neil Smith, 679-683

For an Overt Politics of Software


I have recently been reading the work in geography on software/information/geodata, and there is a lot of good stuff there, but one large concern I have is that the work, in general, seems to be quite aloof, or detached, or trying to stay above the fray, to remain non-committal, as though that were the more professional, academic stance to take.  All this detachment seems to have produced an upshot that is something like: “with all the new technologies coming into our lives in the past 10 years or so, it is important to think through their implications instead of just adopting them uncritically.”  One piece even goes so far as to say that we shouldn’t try to judge if what software does is good or bad, we should just see it as productive, as making things happen, and then try to understand how it works.

While I am all for understanding how it works (technically and socially both), I think that if this is all the literature is willing to do politically (I have certainly not read all of it), then it is failing spectacularly to do what is needed.  I think we desperately need to explicitly engage the political/ethical questions that software raises, to discuss extensively what it means for software to be good or bad (again, both technically and socially), and to never cease having that debate.  One obvious example of what such engagement looks like is the free software movement, which for years has been joining the political battle by advocating something like a “code commons” and decrying the model of proprietary corporate code.  Oddly, the question of free vs. enclosed software rarely comes up in the literature, as far as I can tell.

For my part, I think what “the good” means in this arena is that people produce, distribute, and maintain code themselves, rather than having another entity (most often a large software corporation) do it for them.  Within those communities, the code should be common, which is to say it is freely shared (and never enclosed), because it is understood to be necessarily a product of a whole community’s collective intelligence.  And lastly, the skills to do this work (producing, distributing, and maintaining the code) should be widely distributed within the community.  The work should not fall to (or be hoarded by) a small group of experts.

Of course that is only one position, and it begs other positions and continued debate.  But as academics I think we should be waist deep in such debates, rather than hovering above them and declining archly to take sides.


Critical Geographies Miniconference

From the organizers:


We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 11th annual Critical Geographies mini-Conference, to be held Saturday, October 22nd at the University of Washington!

This year, the conference is being organized in collaboration with the Relational Poverty Network. Relational poverty analysis makes “poverty knowledge” differently by examining how poverty and exclusion are produced through dynamics of power, privilege, and positionality. We are particularly interested in the novel explanations and political insights that arise through relational analysis and methods, and welcome presentations on a variety of topics, by no means limited to poverty.

The theme for the 2016 conference is intersectionality, understood broadly.

We have organized this year’s conference in order to accept a greater number of submissions. Besides traditional paper sessions, we would also like to include student work on panels and in workshop sessions of “lighting talks”, where participants will offer a very brief presentation of their research interests or projects, allowing others to collaborate and provoke their thinking.

We invite the submission of abstracts and “working abstracts” for inclusion in the various presentation formats. The deadline for submission is September 23, and participants will be notified by October 7. More information can be found at

We ask that those who would like to attend without presenting also register so that we can plan accordingly.

Please contact us at with any questions

Trespass: Journal on Squatting


Trespass is an occasionally published journal collecting together reflections on personal experience, essays, papers, conference proceedings, interviews, discussions, letters and other interventions from individual squatters and collectives who are using squatting to promote social change. Trespass is self-managed, open access, and unfunded. It is multidisciplinary and publishes work in different languages.

We aim to provide authors with the possibility to publish in their own language. We consider that linguistic diversity can foster a greater literary quality to the materials being published. Thus, the print version of Trespass will most often contain articles in several languages, but special editions adapted to certain language communities will also be compiled and shared physically at affordable prices.

We aim to publish submissions of peer-reviewed articles and working papers on research topics connected to squatting struggles worldwide. Reviewers for this kind of texts are selected for their knowledge of the subject matter, with a diversity of background preferred. Theory can be written in any kind of format, we encourage authors to develop a diversity of styles to reach readers. Find the submission guidelines here:

On the other hand, the website will be used to spread info about squatting struggles. Our blog and twitter account are open to all formats: communiques; pictures; manifestos; news updates; calls for solidarity; etc. The focus is on facilitating communication between squatters and activists worldwide, and to contribute to the networks that are aligned with squatters, to expand the visibility of their claims and actions.

More information on the reviewing system and the kind of texts we publish in the two sections, namely theory and interventions, are defined in the call for papers: // twitter/trespassnetwork //

Just Released: The Handbook of Neoliberalism

In which I have a chapter arguing we should stop talking about neoliberalism immediately.  (The editors are very patient people…)

The Handbook of Neoliberalism edited by Simon Springer, Kean Birch and Julie MacLeavy is now available. This new volume, published by Routledge, includes over 50 chapters from leading researchers in the field and stands as the largest collection ever assembled on the topic. At over 600 pages it is intended as a reference volume, and the editors hope you might consider asking your local library to carry a copy. More details can be found here.

Judith Butler’s new book

A new book from one of the world’s leading philosophers brims with ideas about gender, collective action and insecurity. Judith Butler giving a talk in Barcelona on November 15 2015. Credit: Some rights reserved. It is impossible to under-estimate the exceptional contribution to political understanding provided in the writing of Judith Butler. Her work,…

via Gathering and assembling: Judith Butler on the future of politics — openDemocracy