Mutable Matter

AAG 2015 Mobile Syllabus: Black Lives Matter meets Why is my curriculum white?


Image: Our first print

This is a note for the participants (and anyone interested) in the t-shirt ‘book bloc’ protest at the AAG in Chicago. T-shirts can be picked up on Wednesday between 9.30am and 7pm at Michigan A, Hyatt, East Tower, Ped Path. Alternative deliveries can be arranged. You are free to also just stop by and browse the wearable library. We are currently at 35 t-shirts and a list of over 50 authors, which will be posted during or after the AAG. We printed only on second hand t-shirts (from charity shops, washed) and factory b-stock from street markets in the hope of making an additional contribution. Due to budget limitations, we could only do iron-on prints.

The protest brings together a wider concern with structural racism with a concern about institutional racism in academia. In a sense it is a combination of ‘Black Lives Matter‘ and ‘Why is my curriculum white?‘. So far, we have received enthusiastic responses as well as justified critique. The enthusiastic responses were echoing our frustration about the ubiquity of all white (and male) syllabi, the relegation of publications by black authors to postcolonial, black or race studies and the reinforcement of existing hierarchies through citation and hiring practices. The critical responses pointed out that movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ are not radical enough, because they are not demanding enough compared with earlier black movements. Further, the protest has to negotiate the problems around negotiating subject/object status of academics of colour. These have been evocatively discussed by Yasmin Gunaratnam in her blog post Presentation Fever and Podium Affects in terms of hermeneutical injustice and ‘performative love’. How to negotiate making fellow academics (white and non-white) the object/subject of protest/support? (I would be very grateful for further responses to this question.)

Our ‘mobile syllabus’ tried to respond to both sets of comments, by including the following groups of books/authors: – authors who have pointed our structural racism across time – books that appear to be missing on many syllabi – books that are making radical demands or are giving case studies of radical projects – books that have inspired a change of thinking in the t-shirt wearers – themed session books (e.g. for the feminist geophilosophy session) We hope that these books/t-shirts/syllabus will be provoking further debate at the AAG and beyond.


Image from our first print round

Feminist Geophilosophy at AAG Chicago


Here is the programme for the Feminist Geophilosophy sessions at the AAG (Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting) 2015 in Chicago. Two presenters sadly had to drop out, so this is the revised running order.

Big thank you to everyone who submitted an abstract in response to our call. Originally we were going to only have two panels, but we received enough abstracts to discuss geophilosophy for two days (!). In the end we went for four panels, so sincere apologies to anyone who could not be included this time.

All sessions are taking place in Michigan A, Hyatt, East Tower, Ped Path. We hope to see you there!

Session 1 (10:00 AM – 11:40 AM)

Chair: Angela Last, University of Glasgow

10:00 AM   Author(s): *Kathryn Yusoff – Queen Mary University of London, *Mary E. Thomas – Ohio State University

Abstract Title: Shaft: the geophilosophies of extraction

10:10 AM   Author(s): *Kai A. Bosworth – University of Minnesota – Minneapolis

Abstract Title: Knowing porous matter: hydrogeology, extraction and the subterranean body politic

10:30 AM   Author(s): *Sarah De Leeuw – University of Northern British Columbia

Abstract Title: Eros and Geophilosophy: Some Poetic Reflections

10:50 AM   Author(s): *Nigel Clark – Lancaster University

Abstract Title: Feminist Pyrotectonics

11:10 AM   Author(s): *Bruce Braun – University of Minnesota, *Jessica Lehmann – University of Minnesota

Abstract Title: Extractive anxieties: sex panics and American energy production

Session 2 (1:20 PM – 3:00 PM)

Chair: Kathryn Yusoff, Queen Mary University of London

1:20 PM   Author(s): *Anja Kanngieser – Goldsmiths College University of London

Abstract Title: Listening to the Anthropocene

1:40 PM   Author(s):

*Angela Last – University of Glasgow

Abstract Title: Re-reading Worldliness: Hannah Arendt, Feminism & the Production of Matter

2:00 PM   Author(s): *Myra J Hird (Oxford) – Queen’s University

Abstract Title: Subtending Relations: Bacteria, Geology, and the Possible

*Stephanie Clare – Syracuse University

Abstract Title: Locating the Anthropocene: Earth System Science meets Feminist Philosophy

2:20 PM   Author(s): *Susan Ruddick – University of Toronto

Abstract Title: In Pursuit of the Common: Rethinking Biopotenza in the age of the Anthropocene

2:40 PM   Author(s):

*Arun Saldanha – University of Minnesota – Minneapolis

Abstract Title: a queerer universe: communism, speculative realism, and the end of man

Session 3 (3:20 PM – 5:00 PM)

Chair: Jessica Lehman, University of Minnesota

3:20 PM   Author(s): *Yvette Granata, Phd Student – SUNY Buffalo, Department of Media Study

Abstract Title: Disturbed Plant-Thinking: A Feminist Field Guide to Wild Urban Plant-Thought

3:40 PM   Author(s): *Bogna M. Konior – Hong Kong Baptist University – Kowloon

Abstract Title: The necessity of redefining personhood: shamanic geophilosophies

4:00 PM   Author(s): *Fuad Ali – University of Greenwich

Abstract Title: Decolonising Climate Change from afar: The Duriana Climate Summit Delegation

4:20 PM   Author(s): *Emma Gaalaas Mullaney – The Pennsylvania State University

Abstract Title: Maíz, Desmadre: Social Difference, Biodiversity, and the Creolization of the Anthropocene

4:40 PM   Author(s): *Lauren A. Rickards – RMIT University

Abstract Title: Gendering the geo: who is speaking?

Session 4 (5:20 PM – 7:00 PM)

Chair: Rory Rowan, University of Zurich

5:20 PM   Author(s): *Deborah Dixon – University of Glasgow

Abstract Title: Touching Earth: Of Landfill Futures and Melancholic Phenologies

Changed to: Skeleton Woman

5:40 PM   Author(s): *Edia Connole –

Abstract Title: The Language of Flowers: Why the Anthropocene is a Bloody Mess

6:00 PM   Author(s): *Christina L. McPhee – independent visual and media artist

Abstract Title: Seismic Shards

6:20 PM  : Discussion

*Gill Park – University of Leeds

Abstract title: I emerge untamed and shake myself free

Call for submissions: Everyday racism/sexism/homophobia in Geography


Message from Association of American Geographers president Mona Domosh:

Hi all,

I’m asking for your help (again!) for my next Newsletter column. I want to call attention to the everyday ways that many of us experience sexism/racism/homophobia; the so-called ‘small’ ways that people treat us differently because of our perceived ‘otherness.’ These everyday racisms/sexisms/acts of homophobia (that include comments, looks, actions, etc.) are pervasive, insidious, and damaging, but are often overlooked as ‘official’ forms of discrimination and harassment. To call attention to them, I’m asking for fellow geographers to email brief descriptions (no names please, just what happened) of the incidents that they are experiencing over a three-week timeframe, from April 4-25. My plan for the column is to start with a brief introductory paragraph, and then simply include an annotated and anonymous list of ‘everyday’ isms that geographers have experienced over a set time period.

So, from April 4-25 (including the AAG conference if you are going), please keep track of these everyday incidents, and email a brief description to me at:<>.

With thanks,

Mona Domosh
Professor of Geography
The Joan P. and Edward J. Foley Jr. 1933 Chair
President, Association of American Geographers
Dartmouth College

AAG Subconference Call For Black Lives Matter ‘T-shirt Book Bloc’


Calling all AAG (Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting) attendees!

Some of us UK Subconference folks thought it would be nice to show our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign through making and wearing t-shirts to the AAG  in Chicago. These will have books on them by black authors, and authors of colour, whose writings engage with institutional racism and/or who have been absent from the mainstream geographical canon despite their contributions to geography (kind of like a t-shirt book bloc).

With this, we not only want to highlight systemic racism, but also want to highlight geography’s (and also academia’s and education’s) implication in this system through citational practices, teaching, recruitment, admissions et cetera.

You can bring and make your own, and we will also be making them in Chicago with iron-on patches. If you have any ideas for books, designs generally or want a tshirt, get in touch! Please e-mail Angela Last (

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Statement of Solidarity from University of Glasgow Geographies of Labour, Social Movements and Activism Group

Image: Chris Young for the Globe and Mail

As members of the University of Glasgow Geographies of Labour, Social Movements and Activism Group, we stand in support of the current labour actions taking place at the University of Toronto and York University. We are proud of their brave efforts to improve working conditions at a moment when corporate agendas are undermining public universities and intellectual integrity around the world.

We are concerned that precarious work conditions at these institutions are hindering contract instructor’s ability to engage in their own research and confidently invest their energies in the classroom. We respect the excellent contributions contract faculty make but it is unacceptable that it comes at such a significant cost. We are also distressed by the lack of sufficient funding available for PhD students at both universities. Funding packages that require students to subsist below the poverty line hinder new research and teaching.

It is deeply inspiring to see the variety of connections being made across occupational, socioeconomic and political lines in the course of this strike. These connections establish a precedent for relations of solidarity elsewhere, and produce critical insights that have value beyond the specific struggle from which they have arisen.

(Disclaimer, we write this in a personal capacity and do not represent the views of the University of Glasgow)

Heather McLean
Diarmid Kelliher
Laura Jane Nolan
David Featherstone
Peter Martin
Lazaros Karaliotas
Erin Despard
Kye Askins
Paul Griffin
Neil Gray
Peter Martin
Bridget Holtom
Angela Last

Dead Wasps Fly Further


This month, I will be participating in two events. ‘Geo-Studio’ (20 March), a geography-arts symposium at Northumbria University, and ‘Dead Wasps Fly Further‘ (Tote Wespen Fliegen Länger), a five-day workshop in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name at the Museum for Natural History in Berlin (26-30 March). The latter is a semi-public event, so here is some more information about it, in case anyone happens to be in town. The exhibition runs from 3-29 March 2015.

‘Dead Wasps fly further’, organised by STS scholar Tahani Nadim and artist Åsa Sonjasdotter, will bring together scholars, artists, activists and curators to discuss and develop issues raised by the exhibition. The exhibition and the workshop attend to the ‘traffics and trajectories of museum objects and the troubles that become tangible by accounting for these movements’. I really loved the framing of the project:

“The exhibition will consist of 3 distinct interventions: a display and wall painting, theatrical tours into the non-public collections and a short film. These interventions assemble humorous, poetic and troubling stories about anthropocentric biodiversity, colonial cultivations and cosmic care. At the same time, they represent an experiment in engaging natural history and making research public.
We consider the workshop collective conclusions as a collaborative attempt to “stay with the troubles” (Donna Haraway) catalysed by objects and research at the museum.”

Questions to be tackled – through debate, performance and activities such as zine-making – include:

“How do we narrate routes and roots without reproducing the exclusions, inequalities or expectations of Eurocentric geographies? How do we insert the human into the narratives presented by the natural history museum? Or, how to de-naturalise the natural history museum? Should we consider the wishes and wants of the Moon, comets and other planets in our explorations of them? How can the museum and its collections help us learn from their troubles, account for other histories and figure a language to tell these?”

Participants were asked to engage with the museum’s collections in the kind of material and talks they bring to the workshop. I will talk about reappropriations of museum objects by anti-colonial activists such as the négritude writers who extensively re-read the findings of Leo Frobenius, a controversial German ethnologist and archaeologist specialising in African history and art.

There will be at least one public event (I definitely remember the 30 March Monday morning one!). I will be posting details here, as soon as they become available. The project is supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) and the Museum für Naturkunde.

Symposium: Frantz Fanon: Concerning the Psychoanalysis and Cosmopolitanism of Violence


[reblogged from Warwick Sociology; thanks to Uli Beisel for sending this to me]

Wednesday 18th March 2015, 1pm to 7pm
University of Warwick (A0.28, Millburn House)

Frantz Fanon, the son of Martinique who first fought for colonial France in World War Two and then against colonial France in Algeria, is taken as the preeminent thinker of decolonization. Although Fanon died in 1961, his work and life still stir debate and discussion today about the lived reality of racism and the nature of violence and revolution in the post-colonial world. This one-day symposium and screening of Göran Hugo Olsson’s documentary Concerning Violence is designed to engender critical and collaborative engagement between researchers, students, practitioners, and activists with an interest in Fanon’s work and its contemporary connotations. This symposium seeks to establish dialogue between different disciplinary perspectives, such as psychoanalysis, postcolonial theory, and histories of globalization, on Fanon’s two major texts Black Skin, White Masks (1952), and The Wretched of the Earth (1961) and his lesser known works such as the essays contained within A Dying Colonialism (1959) and Towards the African Revolution (1964).

Paper Presentations

Dr. Robbie Shilliam (Queen Mary, University London)

Dr. Sheldon George (Simmons College, US)

Professor Kimberly Hutchings (Queen Mary, University London)

Film screening introduced by Mireille Fanon-Mendes:

Göran Hugo Olsson’s documentary Concerning Violence (2014).

Roundtable Discussion

Mireille Fanon-Mendes (Frantz Fanon Foundation)

Professor Gurminder Bhambra (Warwick University)

Dr. Julie Walsh (Warwick University)

Dr. Kehinde Andrews (Bimringham City University)

Dr. Peter Nevins (the Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis)

Chair: Dr. John Narayan (Warwick University)

It is not necessary to register for this event, but to help us get a sense of likely numbers we’d be grateful if you could email one of the organisers if you are planning to attend (either or ).

This event has been made possible through the financial support of The Global History and Culture Centre at the University of Warwick, University of Warwick Humanities Research Centre, The Leverhulme Trust and the British Sociological Association’s Race and Ethnicity Study Group. The event is also supported by the British Sociological Association’s Sociology, Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial Study Group. The BSA exists to promote Sociology. The BSA is a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England and Wales. Company Number: 3890729. Registered Charity Number 1080235.

Guest talk at the New Centre for Research & Practice


On Monday, I gave a virtual guest lecture at the New Centre for Research & Practice. It was the first instalment of a seminar on ‘Global Politics of the Anthropocene‘, organised and taught by Carlos Amador. You can still join the remainder of the discussion, either as a ‘student’ (which enables you to join the discussions) or as a silent listener (‘audit’ option). The upcoming Monday events (UK time: 11pm – 1:30 am) include speakers across disciplines, including fellow Scottish academic Zoe Todd (Anthropology, University of Aberdeen).

The paper I had prepared was on Daniel Maximin‘s geopoetics, which focus on undoing hegemonic geopolitical images by utilising the geophysical. The talk also drew attention to the violence of academic knowledge production, including citation practices. Both themes, for me, relate very strongly to Anthropocene discourse, where attention to the colonial/imperialist dimensions of geophysical phenomena, as well as of research practices themselves, has been lacking.

Image source: New Centre for Research & Practice

CFP: Uniconflicts in Spaces of Crisis


11-14th June 2015

Department of Architecture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece)


International Open Gathering

UNICONFLICTS in spaces of crisis

Critical approaches in, against and beyond the University


visit the website uniconflicts

download the calling UNICONFLICTS (en)


The group “Encounters and Conflicts in the City” calls radical research groups, critical workshops and researchers, students and collectives that are placed in, against and beyond the neoliberal university in an open gathering on the 11-14th June 2015 at the Department of Architecture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece).

Through this gathering, we aim to create a public space of dialogue transcending divisions among academic and scientific disciplines and to critically approach the urban issues of the era of crisis, through a dialectic, intersectional and postcolonial approach.

The central questions that we wish to raise are two:

  1. What is the role of knowledge, of the university and of researchers in the era of crisis?
  2. What are the critical epistemological and methodological tools for studying the spatial expressions of the ongoing crisis at multiple scales?

Within this context, we seek to examine the ongoing crisis not just as an over- accumulation crisis but also as a crisis of social disobedience and of the inability of the circulation of capital, patriarchy and nationalism. Moving against the mystification of the crisis, we are interested in critical approaches that focus on the spatialization of social relations and examine the spaces of dissent. Particularly, we wish to examine the articulations, the limits, the contradictions and the dialectic relation of commons, enclosures, inclusion, exclusion, insurgency and counter-insurgency as well as their hybrid intermediate forms, which emerge in and through physical space, modes of communication and the constitution of communities. Overall, we aim to break the North/South or East/West dichotomies and to focus on the fields of gender, race, class and culture.

Building on the critical evaluation of social relations, the circulation of social struggles and subjects and communities in motion, we search for their contentious spaces and their spatial transformations, limits, possibilities and contradictions in the era of crisis. Moreover, understanding education as a unity of theory and practice, we seek these epistemological and methodological tools that emerge from and aim to the deepening and the circulation of social struggles and social movements. In the context of today’s global and local crisis, we note that while a plethora of social struggles and insurgencies emerge, the academic research often appropriates and commercializes their ideas. It is exactly here that we identify the dead-end.

Hence, we seek to surpass the so called academic activism and to set as a main target of this open gathering the critical examination of the following:


Α. The role of knowledge and of researchers in the university and in social movements

The neoliberal University and the educational system constitute strategic mechanisms for the production and reproduction of social relations. In particular, within a dynamic process of neoliberalization, the university studies are intensified and are linked more and more to the labour market. Within this context, we wish to examine issues such as the production of knowledge, knowledge as a common, the neoliberalization of the University, the new educational enclosures and the concept of Anti-university.

The transformation of knowledge into private property and consequently into a commodity creates new enclosures in the field of knowledge. These new enclosures in neoliberal education are expressed both through the commodification of the physical space of the universities and through the objectification of human abilities. Some indicative examples are the increase of studying costs, the studying loans, the control of access to information, the commercialization of academic papers and books, the securitization of the University space, the criminalization and the rhetoric against student mobilizations, the suppression of the struggles of university employees and the restriction of the freedom of speech.

However, since 1960s and 1970s, the universities are spaces of collective emancipatory movements, of social struggles and of radical experiments of self-organization for the production of knowledge. As a response to these movements, since 1980s, a number of educational reforms has been introduced. These reforms seek to promote the marketization of the university, aiming to produce the appropriate competitive workforce and to supress student movements.

Yet, during the last decade, many dynamic student movements have emerged in France (2006), Greece (2006-2007), the USA (2009-2010), the UK (2010), Italy (2010-2011) and so on, which targeted the enclosure of knowledge and were connected and inspired many other urban social movements.


Axes of discussion


A.1 Social education and emancipatory movements in the universities

– Student movements: limits and contradictions, connection with other urban movements, confrontation of their suppression and criminalization

– Perspectives of a radical pedagogy towards the knowledge as common

– Ideas and practices of free-autonomous universities beyond the education of the neoliberal university


A.2 Control and commodification of knowledge

– Public, state and private education in the neoliberal era

– Politics of knowledge enclosures and copyrights

– The suppression of academic freedom and of the freedom of speech

– Knowledge as private property and commodity for the production of value and surplus value

– Student loans and study costs as mechanisms of disciplining

– The cultural politics of the neoliberal university

– Paid and unpaid work at the University


A.3 The role of the researcher

– Lifelong education, competitiveness and the precarious status f the researcher

– The researcher as producer of dominant discourses and her/his role in the reproduction of power

– Competitiveness, academic carrie and academic divisions and hierarchies

– The biopolitical character of the neoliberal education and the construction of new identities

– Education as praxis, understood as a unity of theory and practice


– Researchers, networks and groups against and beyond the neoliberal university


Β. Critical epistemological and methodological tools for the study of the crisis’s spatial expressions at multiple scales

Against the privatization and commodification of the academic knowledge and the intended hegemony of the neoliberal perspectives, we seek those critical epistemological tools of knowledge production that encourage social emancipation.

During the last years, urban movements and a plethora of visible and invisible practices of resistance and emancipation offer a variety of tools for the destabilization of the dominant ideologies, ways of disaggregation of power, negotiation of contradictions and visibility of differences. In parallel, today there is the urgent need for the promotion, circulation and deepening of these critical perspectives and their linking to social struggles. Thus, we aim to discuss epistemological and methodological tools, such as the following:

B1. Dialectic critical urban theory

Which are those critical approaches that assist us to perceive and examine the multiple dimensions of urban space? How do dialectic approaches and critical urban theory contribute to the understanding of the spaces of social movements and the spaces of capital, racism and patriarchy?

B2. Intersectionality and urban space in the era of crisis

How does intersectionality contribute to the study of the urban space? Which are the intersectional crossings of the multiple systems of domination, oppression and discrimination such as race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, dis/ability, age, cast, language, culture, body size, education level or citizenship?

B3. Cultural and postcolonial approaches

How do cultural and postcolonial studies contribute to the understanding of urban space and the conceptualization of body, identity and modes of communication. How does the criminalization and the suppression of alternative modes of culture, information and lifestyle operate as mechanisms of control, disciplining and normalization? What is the role of social media in the communication of social struggles? We seek the expression of the ongoing crisis through the spaces of architecture, art, media, and internet.


Within the above context, we call critical research groups, workshops, collectives and individuals to participate in a gathering during 11-14 June 2015. If you would like to participate, please provide us with your abstract (300 words) by 1 March 2015 at the latest, to the following e-mail:

Participation is free and we will try to provide accommodation for as many participants as possible.


“Encounters and conflicts in the city” group

Costas Athanasiou, Eleni Vasdeki, Elina Kapetanaki, Maria Karagianni, Matina Kapsali, Vaso Makrygianni, Foteini Mamali, Orestis Pangalos, Haris Tsavdaroglou


“Encounters and conflicts in the city” group


blog «Uniconflicts in spaces of crisis» 


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