© Antipode Foundation
Edited By: Wendy Larner, Paul Chatterton, Vinay Gidwani, Nik Heynen, Katherine McKittrick and Sharad Chari
Impact Factor: 2.15
ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2011: 10/73 (Geography)
Online ISSN: 1467-8330
Past Editors' Reflections
'As with any journal, the editors are of central importance. During and since the tenure of founding editor Dick Peet, they have given Antipode its unique political and intellectual flavour. We asked each of the past editors of Antipode to reflect back on their time in charge of the journal – recalling their personal journeys, the changing political landscape around them, the intellectual challenges they faced, and their achievements. Below we present their accounts.
Ben Wisner (1969-1970)
Richard Peet (1970-85)
Neil Smith (1979)
Eric Sheppard (1986-1991)
Joe Doherty (1986-1992)
Dick Walker (1991-1999)
Linda McDowell (1993 -1999)
Jamie Peck and Jane Wills (2000-2003)
Notes from Underground: The Beginning of Antipode
Ben Wisner (1969 - 1970)
Antipode literally began as “notes from underground,” since it was printed in a basement office by grad students. It began as much student politics did during that era, as a reflex against the Vietnam War, racism, and environmental pollution. The latter, that is, the environmental side of Antipode, remained underdeveloped for quite some years, perhaps because of lingering suspicion that “Earth Day” (1970) and the environmental movement was a conspiracy to draw support and bodies away from anti-war protests. I know that sounds bizarre today, when political ecology very elegantly draws together issues of political power, environmental justice, conflict, and environment. However, the earliest days of Antipode were not informed by rigorous political economy. Only later, under Dick Peet’s editorship and the frequent contributions of Jim Blaut and David Harvey, did we benefit from a systematic exploration of capitalism, its logic, and imperialism – its highest stage
I only edited the first two issues of the journal (by then I’d finished my course work and returned to East Africa to pursue my PhD field work – Jim Blaut playfully having made me fold a map properly as a part of my qualifying exam!). While editing, I helped organize a “peasant farm” on Professor Martyn Bowden’s wooded suburban land. Ebenezer Negron and one other student from Puerto Rico, Dave MacCauley, Danny Amaral, and I cut, burned, tilled the soil in an attempt to get a feeling for “shifting cultivation.” The professor was our landlord. Although his little boys made off with our tomato crop (green) as play things, we didn’t simulate typical oppressive and exploitative relations (e.g. giving half or more of the crop as rent). So interest in nature-society relations was there, but not yet politicized. I later reflected on this in a paper in Antipode (1978) called something like “Does Radical Geography Lack a Theory of Environmental Relations” – not a very snappy title!
The key to Antipode’s origin is the term “radical.” We were groping for root causes of the problems, contradictions, inconsistencies, and hypocrisies with which we had grown up in the 1940s and 1950s (I was born in 1943). The “specter that stalks Europe” that Marx made famous didn’t come first to mind because of who we (mostly white and male and middle class) young Americans were – how we had been raised and educated up to that point. We had grown up under the nuclear specter of the Cold War and had been subjected to the flattening out of perspectives described so well (and so relevantly to this day) by Herbert Marcuse and others in the Frankfurt school. Some had gotten involved in the Civil Rights movement. My two years in a Tanzanian village before coming to Clark, serving as an American Friends Service Committee volunteer in place of Vietnam military service had been the beginning of my awakening to the class and race dimensions of space and environment. Systematic study of Marxism and other critical disciplines was still ahead for most of us, and it was Antipode as it evolved under later editors that was a vital tool to that deferred and essential further (lifelong?) education.
Archeology of Radical Geography
The first issue in August 1969 contains both what Paul Robbins in his book Political Ecology (Oxford, Blackwell, 2004) calls “hatchet” and “seed.” He refers to the de-constructing, de-mystifying role of political ecology – and critical scholarship more generally – by “hatchet.” The “seeds” are collections, compilations, and analyses of political action, often in the mode of resistance.
Jim Blaut’s well-known “Jingo Geography (Part I)” appeared there (pp. 10-15) as did Dick Peet’s essay on “New Left Geography” (pp. 3-5), and Richard Morrill’s “Geography and the Transformation of Society” (pp. 6-9). Among them, these authors laid out a sketch of the critical and transformative role that subsequently flowered within geography in forms such as the Socialist Geography Specialty Group and Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (AAG).
As filler among the papers, we placed a number of announcements about parallel organizing efforts among faculty and grad students in disciplines as diverse as literature and African studies. You could write off to Ann Arbor, Michigan and get Che Guevara’s pamphlet essay on Vietnam for ten cents.
Gaps, myths, and silences were identified and dissected in this first issue: Fred Donaldson on the absent Black American in geography and geographic research (pp. 17-33), the ideology purveyed by “Troubling Textbooks” (by Reed Stewart, pp. 34-36), concerns with monitoring and technology that re-read as eerie premonitions of the world created by the Bush Jr. administration post 9-11 (papers by Bob Kates, pp. 47-53 and Jeremy Anderson, pp. 54-57).
While the balance of this first issue was certainly on the wielding of Robbin’s critical, analytical “hatchet,” there are also voices of the oppressed and increasingly organized and struggling to be found in the interview with urban organizer Ruby Jarrett (“How to Build a Slum”, pp. 37-42) and the very activist Detroit Expedition and Institute led by the charismatic and quixotic Bill Bunge and a then young inner city Detroit protégé, Gwendolyn Warren (p. 45-46).
Looking back at this first issue, with its lampoons of establishment geography’s popular organ Focus (pp. 46 & 53), peacenik logo, free hand illustrations by Cinny Briggs, and a quite wild map (the Universal Antipode Projection) by Karen Thompson and Bill Emerson (p. 16 – see Figure 3), we got off to a good start. It was a shambolic, amateurish adventure, but there was freshness and excitement that was needed in the protracted struggle that still faced us.
Dave Stea wrote (p. 1), that we were “soliciting articles for a journal that in future issues might damn articles and journals alike.” Electronic media and blogs may well have done that by now. And global web communities such as the International Critical Geography Group (http://econgeog.misc.hit-u.ac.jp/icgg/ ) and journals such as ACME (http://www.acme-journal.org/ ) have shed some journalesque forms. What David meant, however, was probably more that we needed above all to act, to be engaged with people in common political struggle, using our skills as geographers (environmental social scientists, cartographers, GIS specialists, soil scientists, whatever) – to be sure – but committed and engaged. Dave went on to predict his own immensely creative but peripatetic career (he is now retired in Mexico) as he continued, “A society which measures man’s worth in terms of volume of publications accumulated is no less sick than one which measures his worth in terms of dollars amassed” (p. 1). It was good to have professors who said such things and behaved the way that he, Jim Blaut, and others did. Perhaps in 2006 we need to ask what kind of example we are setting for younger scientists and scholars.
My own brief editor’s note (p. iii) began by citing Gandhi and Martin Luther King. I quoted Gandhi’s pivotal question, “Shall I bear with those who create difficulties for me, or shall I destroy them.” I believed in non-violence then. Over the years – engaged as I was earlier with humanitarian assistance during the Mozambican struggle for independence and have been during the long process of recovery from the 1980s genocidal in Guatemala – I have occasionally questioned the wisdom of non-violence. However, in a world on the brink of re-arming with nuclear weapons and one in which the current U.S. administration is creating a “clash of civilizations” where there was none, even as it continues to waffle and deny the gravity of climate change, Gandhi’s question is yet again the key one. Sanity lies on the side of non-violent action, with strong emphasis on action. If Antipode can continue to help clarify what action is most effective to regain justice and environmental balance, it will continue to be an important reference point.
Reminiscencing the Early Antipode
Richard Peet (1970-85)
We knew nothing of our predecessors when we started the radical geography movement. Take anarchism, for instance. I first heard of Peter Kropotkin through a chance remark by Jim Blaut, who was far better read than anyone in those early days, that there was a geographic theory which saw cooperation, rather than competition, as the main theme in evolution. This idea appealed and still appeals in my occasional romantic moments -- people were naturally cooperative and society must eventually return to this pristine condition to be in tune with nature. We also had a vague notion that Karl Wittfogel had been some kind of Marxist geographer, although a deeper knowledge came to me only when I had one of his early articles translated for Antipode in the 1980s. Thus the very idea that there could be a radical geography deeply rooted in the anarchist and Marxist traditions only gradually emerged ten years after we had started “the movement.”
Why was this? Let me turn to the training of the geographer at the time, in my own case at the London School of Economics, in the late 1950s -- the one place you might have expected to find a politicized geography! I can safely say that I never heard Karl Marx's name mentioned on the geography floor even though socialist ideas resounded through the rest of the Houghton Street building. Marx was not geography. Many interesting things were not geography -- most in fact. (No…anything interesting was not geography!) Social and economic factors, usually numbered and listed, and usually natural-environmental, made things happen, but any conception of the social totality was "outside the boundaries of the discipline." Geographers voluntarily restricted their knowledge by drawing lines around aspects and elements of wholes, ignoring everything outside these tight parameters. This crippled the geographical imagination.
I found a similar situation at the University of British Columbia when I went there to do a masters degree in the early 1960s. But there, at least, was a course on the history and philosophy of geography. A vague notion of the different schools of thought, and a distant comprehension of the structure of geographical knowledge, entered my mind. At the time "quantification" and "models" were the leading edge of the discipline. (When I first heard the word "model" I thought it referred to those plastic replicas of mountains and valleys I had been told "not to lean on" at LSE). The understanding of the positivistic theory lying behind these techniques was limited to say the least. But I remember the insights of the gravity model sounding “scientific” and seeming “profound” (until I explained “geography and space” for 20 minutes to a sociologist who replied “is that all you people have to offer?”). For me, the spatial version of geography prevalent in North America made more sense than the possibilistic version of environmental determinism still prevailing in British (regional) geography.
When I arrived at the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley in 1963 my mind was set on doing location theory rather than cultural geography. The economic-historical geography of Allan Pred, with its notions of cumulative socio-economic process in space, was more appealing. At that time, doing theory, even as mundane as location theory, was exciting – the notion that one could, in a few sentences, represent global processes, was liberating especially to a still-shy, unconfident kid from Lancashire. I think the Berkeley geography department was the last in the university to be affected by the Free Speech and Anti-War movements. Even when some of us did become involved, it was as anonymous graduate student demonstrators rather than as geographers. At the time, the idea of a radical geography was impossible to think. Even histories of South East Asia which explained the United States intervention in Viet Nam as necessary to maintain access to crucial regional resources, were not geography … because they had political implications! (We were doing “value-free” science). But the anti-war movement took hold of us, and radicalized our politics, or in my own case renewed the socialism I had learned in my youth in the red north of England.
At Clark University, where I obtained my first full-time job in 1967, the Anti-War Movement had already begun. We regularly marched down Worcester's Main Street, and a group of us flew down to Washington in Jim Blaut's plane for the March on the Pentagon. (I came back by train … Jim was not the best pilot in the world, and David Stea was worse, when Jim gave him the controls for a few minutes… you don’t dive-bomb cows after 2 minutes instruction!). It gradually occurred to us that geography might possibly have something to say about what were literally the burning issues of the day. I remember the rush of excitement when the idea of a geography of poverty first came to me in 1968. I spent the summer working as a migrant farm worker and almost got killed on a tobacco field in Connecticut. In 1969 a group of young faculty members and graduate students at Clark decided to begin a journal that would carry articles conceived in a more socially-relevant vein – I was only peripherally involved. Antipode's first two issues, under the editorship of Ben Wisner, reflect these concerns. We searched the conventional literature, quickly finding that the geographical journals had almost nothing to say about the topics at hand, except perhaps a few pieces which had just begun to appear on urban ghettos; the sociology and economics journals had little more to offer. The need for explanatory theory became personally acute as the large numbers of students who turned up for "radical geography" courses found lots of graphic description and moral suasion, but little of theoretical substance. (On the day of my first lecture on the ‘Geography of American Poverty’, I looked for the room I had been assigned. I walked past a lecture theater filled to over-flowing with students, before realizing, with a sinking feeling, they were waiting for me. A professor I knew slightly was outside his empty room. He asked me what I was teaching? I said “poverty in America” and he grumbled – “Oh, that’s why” (I had all the students while he was trying to pull them in with a crook).
I think it was 1970 when David Harvey first turned up at Clark. In April 1971 David gave his "Social Justice and Spatial Systems" paper at a Perspectives on Poverty session I organized at the Association of American Geographers meeting in Boston. The paper argued for a normative theory of territorial social justice in which income was distributed so that needs were met, multipliers maximized, and special difficulties of physical and social environments overcome. This actually was a limited, modest paper. However, when he had finished, David mentioned that a few copies of the paper were available. The stampede that followed confirmed his guru status among graduate students and young faculty in the discipline. (Indeed, without David’s prestige gained through his earlier book Explanation in Geography, we would have faced even more opposition than we did. By the way, non-radical but sympathetic people like Julian Wolpert and Richard Morrill saved us more than once from a vengeful discipline). For a couple of years we all thought in terms of achieving social justice essentially via liberal reform. Typical Antipode articles of the time dealt with the geography of poverty, ghettoization, access to social services, social engineering, planning, minority groups, underdeveloped regions like Appalachia, the Vietnam War, the Third World, and the critique of the institutions of "establishment geography". However, things were changing so rapidly that no sooner had this line of (largely) descriptive work begun, when Harvey repudiated "yet another empirical investigation of the social conditions in the ghettos" as "counterrevolutionary" calling instead for "the self-conscious construction of a new paradigm for social geographic thought based in Marxism”. Typical of conventional reactions to this call for theoretical revolution was Brian Berry's -- he said that Harvey subscribed to a conspiracy theory and was stuck in the nineteenth century, whereas "bubbling Black ethnocentrism, with an alternative twentieth century core of theories of social change, provides an alternative value system that provides a fundamental basis for optimism". In a review of Social Justice and the City Berry later charged that Harvey would sit a long time waiting for a revolution of the class struggle type, whereas he agreed with Daniel Bell that control of society was no longer primarily economic, but political, and that transformation was already producing a post-industrial world. (I had to edit some “four letter words” from the Berry review… but now I wish I had left them in).
Obviously, the radicals and eventually a good chunk of the discipline, sided with Harvey. But how were we to construct a Marxist Geography? Here our limited backgrounds in social science and philosophy again intruded We had no conception even of society as the origin of spatial structures, and therefore could not appreciate a Marxian conception of social totality yielding richer insights into spatial arrangement (I later met a British geographer who told me that when he first heard the term "Marxist Geography" he went through Marx's writing, collected all the remotely geographical passages, pasted them together, and tried to make sense of the motley assemblage.) In 1975, Harvey published a major exegetical work explicating the spatial dimension to Marx, Lenin, and Luxemburg's ideas and Blaut gave a history of the theory of imperialism. (At the time we planned a Geographer's Guide to Marx that was to contain a series of such exegetical pieces.) Although parts of Harvey's article were unclear (especially the formation and movement of value in space), it pointed the way towards a center-periphery perspective on the capitalist world system that could be extended by reading Baran, Sweezy, Frank and Wallerstein etc.. This Third World view point was enhanced by Steen Folke's paper on imperialism and an early article by Milton Santos who subsequently organized two issues of Antipode on underdevelopment, drawing on the wide range of contacts he had made in his forced exile from Brazil (spent mainly in France) in the 1970s. Many people subsequently told me that these two issues deeply affected their thinking on the geography of development.
The middle 1970s saw the flowering of a radical culture in geography. We looked at every conceivable aspect of capitalist oppression – women, ghettos, the mentally ill, housing, rural America, school busing, planning, migrant labor, and so on. The period was particularly notable for a series of critiques of conventional theory initiated in a British issue edited by Jim Anderson, that carried his own essay on ideology in geography, the first of two critiques of the geography of underdevelopment by David Slater, and Doreen Massey's critique of industrial location theory. To my mind, the best critical essay of the time was by Brian Hudson, linking the rise of imperialism with the "new geography" of the late nineteenth century. As well as criticizing, however, we explored alternatives from a number of perspectives, from McGee's "radical revision of the attitudes towards traditional systems" and "complete rethinking. . . of the traditional-modem dichotomy," to Breitbart's "principles of location under anarchy" and beyond to our first attempts to conceptualize space from a Marxian perspective. Looking back from the future, many of these papers are simple indeed. We believed it better to publish semi-developed ideas than to wait, like true professionals, for staid maturity. I still believe this to have been the best strategy. For some, Antipode had a reputation as a publisher of "half-baked, emotional work." At the time this hurt. Now I just think … “screw you!”. There was a strong sense of community in radical geography at the time. By publishing in Antipode we were building a political as well as a theoretical movement. We supported each other instinctively, no matter the differences in (radical) political belief. (When the Ley and Duncan critique of structural Marxist geography appeared in the early 1980s we felt betrayed, not by Duncan who was never one of us, but by David Ley who had previously pretended a kind of religious-phenomenological adherence to our cause).
Geographical activism, best represented by the Detroit Geographical Expedition continued in the Toronto and Vancouver Geographical Expeditions, Bob Colenutt's work in community organizing in London (England), and the Sydney expedition led by Ron Horvath. (In Worcester the Clark geography graduate students opened a storefront center called "Your Place" in the middle of the Puerto Rican area of the city, while geographers were also prominent in the Clark Socialist Union.) The leading proponent of geographical activism was Bill Bunge, and the directing of activity towards urban neighborhoods was guided by his simple observation that "The geography of the working class is overwhelmingly at the point of reproduction not the point of production" . Within the discipline, the Union of Socialist Geographers, founded in Toronto in 1974, set up special sessions at national meetings, and gathered in “pre-meetings” to search the AAG program for "objectionable" papers, and to make sure that difficult questions were asked of their perpetrators – we were very nasty to do this, weren’t we? We organized geography graduate and undergraduate students into collectives (the largest with 50 or 60 members was at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia), liaisoned with the various geographical expeditions, and developed a newsletter which carried its news and beliefs – the USG Newsletter appeared between 1975 and about 1983. (I just went over to look at my molding issues, and out popped a copy of Practical Applications of Theoretical Geography by William Bunge including an unpublished paper by Fred K. Schaefer … its probably been hidden there for a couple of decades). However, the Union of Socialist Geographers and Antipode remained distinct, as were the journal and the expeditionary movements. This was in part due to the different orientations of the three components of the radical geography movement (Antipode, USG, Expeditions), in part due to personality clashes (Bill Bunge was difficult), but mainly simply because Antipode had an effective, functioning base at Clark that we did not want to jeopardize by attachment to what might (and did) turn out to be ephemeral ventures.
In the 1970s we put Antipode together, issue by issue, as we accumulated articles. At first it was typed by sympathetic people in the Geography Department at Clark, mimeographed using paper that “fell off a truck” as they say. We started getting subscriptions after a couple of years, so we could get the typing done by the Clark “typing pool”. The headings I used to print off using a typesetting machine and stick on to the pages with glue. We mailed the issues by gathering a group of comrades, stuffing the envelopes, cutting out the labels, sticking them on, licking the glued bits, and mailing special fourth class rate. Afterwards we would go out to eat Chinese, where I would order French fries, everyone would criticize me (only a working class Brit would order chips in a Chinese restaurant), but then eat the lot ... I only got a few!) As editor I did everything, down to carrying the boxes of issues into a purloined storage space. Our budget was zero!) We would set up a table at the AAG meeting to sell the journal. The table became a congregating place for radicals between sessions that would help get people through the alienating experience of the meeting.
I spent the years 1978-1980 in Australia. Phil O'Keefe and Kirsten Johnson took over as editors of Antipode. They published four outstanding issues in those two years: Part II of Ideology and Environment edited by Jim Anderson; Human-Environment Relations edited by Richard Walker; The Urban Problematic edited by Joe Doherty, R Paddison and Neil Smith; and a double issue on Anarchism edited by Myrna Breitbart. The papers in these issues were last bursts of color in the fall of our 1960' s style radicalism. This was a period of rapid change, when the cooperative values and laid-back, quasi-hippie lifestyle of the 1960s and early 1970s were being discarded in favor of individualism, professionalism and competitiveness. Antipode thought it had to change with the times.
Phil O'Keefe outlined a new policy for Antipode aimed at achieving theoretical rigor through the formal refereeing of papers and, beginning with the first issue of 1980, having the journal set in type. But there were also proposals for achieving academic respectability by going to a commercial publisher which we might have pursued earlier -- I, for one, resisted this idea for several years, believing that merely sprucing up the journal would suffice, and retaining the publishing at Clark. Things were very much different in the early 1980s than they had been in 1977-1978. On my return from Australia in 1980, I found that the radical culture that lasted at Clark into the late 1970s was definitely gone. My ‘Geography of American Poverty’ course, which had drawn 250 students in the early-middle 1970s now drew 20. The Clark Socialist Union and Your Place had ceased to exist. In the discipline, the Union of Socialist Geographers gave way to the safer Socialist Geography Specialty Group within the Association of American Geographers. The early 1980s was a difficult time for Antipode in terms of subscriptions and article submissions. And yet, looking over the issues for the last few years of my editorship I am impressed with the quality of the articles that did appear. So one day Phil O’Keefe and I went to the editorial offices of Routledge publishers (the old Routledge & Kegan Paul, publisher of radical books) to persuade them to take Antipode on. The editor who saw us was an old patrician with a plummy accent, who I took to be a privileged fool, until he asked some sharp questions about our finances, before chucking us out with a resounding No! I then negotiated with Blackwell through John Davey, their long-time Geography editor. And Blackwell took over the physical production of the journal with Joe Doherty and Eric Sheppard as editors. They can tell you what happened after that.
The first 6 years of Antipode came courtesy of the generous labor of: Danny Amaral, Jim Anderson, Enid Arvidson, Rene Baril, Jim Blaut, Martin Boddy, Elaine Bosowski, Myrna Breitbart, Ellen Cohn, Bob Colenutt, Harry Cummings. Ann Dennis, Jack Eichenbaum, Bill Emerson, DaraEntekhabi, Ruth Fincher, Malcolm Forbes, Cathy Gibson, Mick Godkin, Julie Graham, Gerry Hale, Dick Hansis, David Harvey, Alison Hayford, Al Hershman, Gordon Hinzman, Ron Horvath, Kirsten Johnson, Mark Johnson, Ibipo Johnston, Cindi Katz, Dutch Klugman, Jim Lyons, Helga Lyons, Anita Marble, Dave McCauley, Suzanne McKenzie, Terry McGee, Tendani Mathiva, David Miller, Fujio Mizouka, Murdo Morrison, AmyNovick, Phil O'Keefe, Ann Oberhauser, Dick Peet, Colm Regan, Richard Rieser, Graham Rowles, Bruce Ryder, Steve at Commonwealth Printing Coop, Lynne at North, Valley Typesetting& Graphics, Milton Santos, Stuart Shaw, David Slater, Neil Smith, David Stea, Paul Susman, Sipho Talene, Eric Waddell, Dick Walker, Carl Weinstein, Danny Weiner, Ben Wisner, Richard Wright, and many others.
Phil O’Keefe (1978-1980)
I arrived at Clark in mid-winter from Mozambique. My moustache froze on the first morning I walked to the School of Geography, my desert boots could not cope with the snow and the first person into the office was someone who complained that, because undergraduate fees were so expensive, he should not be failed on first semester work. Welcome to a new world, miles from the on-going revolution in south-east Africa.
Richard Peet’s handover, as he headed to Australia, reflected the man himself. “There’s some good stuff, some filler and some that is hopeless. For reference, get David Harvey on Marx and urbanisation, although the rent debate is difficult, and use Blaut for development issues. By and large, the Europeans are better read but slower to respond. The Graduate School at Clark has some well read radicals and there’s a couple of useful sociologists upstairs. There is also a new Marxist econometrician on campus. More importantly, for production and mailing, there are the graduate students: they are the production team. Bribe them four times a year with beer and they will help, but not too much beer. So you do not go astray, Kirsten Jonson is your co-editor. Then finally, there is the finances, and the cheque book, but borrow whatever you can from the University.” If that is not exactly verbatim, it is as close to a sense of what he said as he left Antipode for the Antipodes.
The year was 1976 and what an inheritance to be given. Other editors can tell you of Antipode’s early life as an agitprop vehicle, of arrests in anti-Vietnam demonstrations, of early geographic critiques of positivism and of field-based expeditions which were the fore-runner of so much current participatory appraisal. During the early 1970s, however, under Peet’s editorial leadership, Antipode had developed a radical, if not always politically coherent, voice and moved to embrace a widened, if contested, political economy of geographical problems based in a Marxist tradition. There was a sense of forward movement, not least with the creation two years earlier of the Union of Socialist Geographers, which seemed to highlight the need to frame questions about social transition rather than geography simply taking a little of Marx as ornament.
Production was frantic. We used state-of-the-art IBM typewriters, stencils and, for first runs, a roneograph. Fortunately Peet had made contact with a supportive printer but the sense of never being much further forward than Caxton and carved woodblocks prevailed. The process of mailing, and those endless sheets of addresses, was a remarkable cottage industry.
Most manuscripts did not come camera-ready, some even came hand written, so the editorial process required the enlistment of many scribes. I had sufficient experience of political movements and the academic process to know there was a different technical possibility, but it took me some two years to print instructions to authors for submissions. By 1980, however, I managed to get the journal type-set.
Then there was the question of peer review, absolutely essential if the radicals were to make an impact on academic geography. I was not Peet and so did not have his access to a range of professionals for informal peer review. My sense of the radical community was, however, that they wanted a formal peer process, not least because it legitimised their activities in and beyond the academic community. It was essentially an easy transition.
Feedback to editors is essential and to go further than Clark University Graduate School of Geography was sometimes difficult, not only because of the fierce but friendly debates between the radicals (I remember in the Marxist reading group that I was asked to lead seminars on the impact of feminism on radical geography in 1978), but also because of tensions between the radicals and those, like Anne Buttimer, who pioneered a phenomenological exploration of human values. And beyond that were the classic geographical debates led by Kasperson and Kates.
Other graduate schools were important. John Hopkins was a theoretical hotbed centred around a group of radicals working with David Harvey. Simon Fraser was central and had a strong Irish flavour. McGill was core to the debate and hosted a series of meetings over my years as editor. UCLA, especially around the radical planners with Ed Soja, was crucial. And last, but no means least, was Eric Sheppard who tried to keep the radical flag flying in the Midwest.
The other change I initiated was to make a link with commercial publishers. Against the broad anarchism of the Antipode tradition, I felt it important to concentrate on improving the quality content of the journal rather own the publishing vehicle. Richard Peet managed the negotiations with Blackwell which took over from the first issue of 1986.
Other people have commented that I tried to “professionalise” Antipode, a claim too far. What I tried to do was make it a central reference point within and beyond geography debates. That was relatively easy since, under Johnson-O’Keefe editorship, there were a series of special issues including Anderson’s on Ideology and Environment, Walker’s on Human-Environment Relationships, Doherty-Paddison-Smith on the Urban Problematic and Breitbart on Anarchism.
It is probably due to the generosity of Myrna Breitbart that I am still around to tell this tale. She had moved from Clark to Hampshire College after completing her doctorate. She was a key Antipode worker and her leadership of that special issue on Anarchism was remarkable. Camera-ready copy off to the printers: special note for cover, red on a black background. A couple of days later, the special issue arrived, 1,500 copies with a pink on grey background cover. By hand, and before Myrna could see how I had ruined her work, the usual crew of graduate students had to physically remove the covers and replace them with the correct ones. I think I laid a couple aside for the sake of history: they would be a collector’s item now.
Kirsten Johnson was formidable. Not only did she edit firmly and well, she found time to finish a doctorate and have a baby. My life was more simple: buoyed by friendship, and long weekends of labour with Neil Smith, getting through the work and Guinness. Without them, my life would have been much more empty. I left Clark for the Beijer Institute, at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1980. For the next 15 years, I led some rather large people-environment programmes, mostly in eastern and southern Africa. In theory, I was trying to explain science to politicians and politics to scientists: another reality is that what I led was a long range planning effort for the African liberation movements. I cherish a chanced meeting with Mandela, in the underground car park of Shell House in 1993 when, late at night, he simply said in passing “The geographer is working late again”. Not a bad epitaph.
I returned to the United Kingdom at the height of the national miner’s Strike in 1984. It was a rather simple politics, the people versus Thatcher. For twelve years, I served as an elected representative in the Labour Administration on North Tyneside helping pilot anti-poverty and early learning schemes that became national when Labour came to power in 1997. I came home to Newcastle Polytechnic, now Northumbria University, and continue to teach and research. Core to the last twenty-five years has been my role in building ETC International, a not-for-profit, multicultural, multinational headquartered in the Netherlands with self-determined units in India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Peru and the United Kingdom committed to participatory sustainable development: from two people in 1980, it has grown to a large family. And most importantly, I met a life partner, Di Jelley, a doctor of formidable but compassionate intelligence with whom I have four children.
My abiding memory of Antipode will be the work of the Clark graduates who had an international impact from a cottage industry. Every time I read the roll-call on the Clark web pages memories of those important years, to me, come flooding back, including some spicy remarks (perhaps Ann Dennis?) that people, especially women students, only worked with me because I had good sweaters. Those are the people who deserve the credit. The list is there (Antipode, 17, 2 and 3, 1985, pp 4-5). For my part, I merely worked in trust before giving the ball back to Richard Peet. How right that he was honoured in Chicago this year by those who know and respect his impact.
Neil Smith (1979)
I was an accidental editor of Antipode. It all happened while I was a graduate student in Baltimore. Baltimore was exciting, but I was in an Engineering school and the Geography department was filled with sewage engineers and economic systems analysts while all I wanted to do was read Marx and urban theory. I plunged into political organizing but academically, strange as it may now seem, graduate student life there in the late 1970s was a little isolated from the excitement of a burgeoning “radical geography.” Toronto or Vancouver, for sure, but especially Worcester, Mass. – that was the place to be. Partly because it produced Antipode, but also because for some still unfathomable reason a critical if motley mass of radicals, feminists, socialists, environmentalists and all-round malcontents had colonized its School of Geography, Clark Geography seemed to be the center of the radical universe, geographically speaking, and I used to visit whenever I could, especially during the period when a visiting Phil O’Keefe was filling in for Dick Peet as editor. It was then that I accidentally co-edited a single volume of the journal.
Trips to Clark mixed extreme work with extreme recreation and were always followed by exhilarating fatigue. A certain spatial division of labour obtained – writing and reading group meetings, editing and journal assemblage in the School of Geography or in student flats around the town, and fun in Moynihan’s Bar down Main Street. But we were socialists not capitalists and the division of labour was fluid: there was fun at work, while not a few ideas, sentences and fuzzy political plans saw first light at Moynihan’s. The buzz about the School of Geography was palpable and there was a certain collectivity among many people’s projects. The boundaries between Antipode, someone’s PhD dissertation, and the writing up of research projects were not always clear, at least to me; indeed there was a sense abroad that the oppressive US system of academic tenure could be outfoxed quite simply by a little socialist cooperation whereby each paper written by an individual in this undefined group would be submitted with a host of authorial names, and we would all benefit. On one long weekend visit, I remember a plan to write a book on Underdevelopment and Environment. This was certainly ambitious, we recognized, and any final editing could presumably be done, we conceded, the following week before sending the manuscript off. If memory serves we got as far as a rough table of contents on a napkin (and, I think, the acknowledgements). Intense political arguments about imperialism in Africa, feminism, nuclear power, revolution or reform, underdevelopment, class, race and environment, anarchism – these were the oxygen of this frenzy. How could we build the Union of Socialist Geographers (USG)? What was the relationship between Antipode and the USG? Everything was fueled by beer, politics and cigarettes.
In this context, Antipode was a quite different journal from today. Articles were submitted, certainly, but just as likely someone would say: “Hey, we should do a piece about X. Who could do that?”. A phone call would be made or a couple of letters sent, or else an unsuspecting someone in the hall was roughly grabbed by the collar, escorted to Moynihan’s, and injected with the idea of writing the article that had so excited those who came up with said idea. Political visuals – who could design an ambitious cover? Who could draw a biting cartoon for such and such an article by 5 o’clock this afternoon (OK, next week)? – were omnipresent before the revolution of the image in the humanities and social sciences. And then there was production. As many others will surely relate, production was a messy business involving typed “skins,” mimeo machines, and ink everywhere. The thrill of getting a new issue in your hands, of sensing yourself on the cutting edge (even if the content was highly uneven) was only dimmed by the recognition that the mailing list, pens, and piles of large envelopes in the corner meant a mailing party and another late night. So many to mail. Why was such a radical rag so damned popular?
I was not only an accidental editor. I was a peripatetic editor. I did serve later on the editorial board when such an official thing was inaugurated and kept contributing that way. But actually, I was only really a weekend editor. I think I left Clark the Monday after we put together volume 11.3 with no sense that my name would appear on the cover as co-editor, and I was quite surprised when the bright white and red volume appeared in my Baltimore mailbox.
It took a huge intellectual, political and personal commitment by the real everyday editors to make Antipode work during its first decade, especially by Dick Peet, but it was a time and place when the division between younger faculty and graduate students was quite fuzzy – partly out of political commitment, partly because the department seemed always to have a floating population of visitors – and so the true heroes of Antipode, to my mind, those who built it and made it and whose delicate dialectic of sufficient anarchy with almost enough organization, were the dozens of Clark graduate students with ink on their hands. It was hard individual and collective work with no payoff except osmotic political learning, but without it today’s “Radical Journal of Geography,” with its critical breadth, multiple perspectives, liveliness, and considerable influence (measured now in “impact factors”) would not have survived, indeed thrived.
Eric Sheppard (1986-1991)
Dick Peet pulled me aside sometime in 1985 to tell me that the Antipode editorial board had met to discuss finding new editors, and would I consider taking on the job. I was pretty stunned: My relations with Antipode had been at best limited—to publishing a single commissioned essay, a few years before. I had spent some years heavily involved in the Union for Socialist Geographers (USG), coordinating the publication of its periodic Newsletter. I had also come to know a number of the Antipode folks through USG meetings, and interminable debates about whether the USG should disband in favor of a socialist geography specialty group within the Association of American Geographers. But I was new on the block, with no connections with Clark and few with the Antipode diaspora. At the same time, it was one of those offers you cannot refuse. Dick has a way of looking you in the eye, and this was an opportunity to shape Anglo-American radical geography. It was only after I had indicated willingness that Dick let the other shoe drop: They had decided to privatize publication of the journal, and to this end were in negotiation with Blackwell. Thus I and Joe (chosen as the UK co-editor) were to take charge of the commodification of knowledge production in radical geography.
To put it mildly, this was a somewhat disconcerting moment for a young radical geographer (I can only imagine the debates at Clark, about whether to accede to the market). We joined the negotiations with Blackwell, themselves an experience. My only prior experience in contract negotiations had been with the University of Toronto administration, after we had formed a teaching assistant union, and that had been an alienating and frustrating. Again, it seemed like we had few options. Blackwells were just entering the journals business: Antipode was their first Geography journal—radical geography became the gateway to what has become a lucrative market. But they still controlled the information, viewing our claims to take the journal elsewhere with appropriate suspicion. We labored over everything from the cover, to subscriptions, mailing lists, publicity and editorial support; gaining little of what we had envisioned, but enough to be able to justify the contract to ourselves. In the long run, Blackwell has provided substantial support to the journal, but during our term there was no support for editorial work. We spent many pre-email hours contacting referees, mailing manuscripts, massaging authors, and copy-editing; and trying to develop and retain a stable list of subscribers.
The opportunity to shape this next phase of Antipode was exciting, however. In our opening editorial, we declared our intention “that Antipode will continue to be a forum for the publication of significant contributions to a radical (Marxist/socialist/feminist/anarchist) geography…we will seek to maintain traditional areas of strength in environmental questions, urban political economy and development issues. We intend to improve the journal’s coverage of feminist approaches, and to keep it at the forefront of debate in all aspects of geography. Each issue will contain three to five papers that are high quality contributions…In addition there will be sections devoted to debates and reports. ”
Our ambitions were signaled by a New Left Review style section of the editorial that followed our opening statement, commenting on the contributions of each article in the opening issue (an ambition that soon was left on the wayside of overwork). I recall that at first each issue as a struggle: Finding enough papers to meet the publication deadline (now that the cyclical time of the Clark collective had been regularized into the rhythms of capitalism); mailing them to Blackwell, and worrying about how long it was taking them to print and distribute the issues. Gradually, however, things seemed to smooth out—or at least our minds and bodies bent to the rhythms of production.
I vividly remember each paper in that first issue (April 1986), and with pride: We thought we were off to a good start.
Joe Doherty (1986-1992)
The circumstances are now a bit hazy, but I remember well the conversation in early 1985 during which Phil O’Keefe broached the subject of taking on the editorship of Antipode. Surprised and flattered, I had no hesitation in accepting and while there were moments thereafter when I was astounded by the naiveté of my early enthusiasm, I never regretted the decision. I had been round the fringes of UK Antipode for several years previously and was aware of the debate and shared in much of the disquiet over the decision to shift the production of Antipode from the Clark commune to the global market place. If the technology of open access had been around at the time, the history of Antipode might have been very different. The contract with Basil Blackwell Ltd (as Blackwell Publishers was then known) was designed to minimize risk to the company – three issues a year and strictly enforced page limitations with no editorial, secretarial or technical support and, surely with out precedent, the payment of a subvention to Blackwells by a number of sympathetic senior geography academics. It was not until an attempt to poach Antipode by a rival publisher alerted us to the economics of journal publication that Blackwells finally agreed to forego the subsidy payment. It took longer to wrestle editorial support, indeed it was not until 1992, a year after Eric Sheppard had left and during my last year as editor, that we finally acquired a copy-editor. Much has changed since those days.
In sharing the editorship, Eric and I developed a reciprocity of effort in which we each took responsibility for alternate issues and with the support of a fine editorial board and proactive book editors we somehow managed to get through the first hectic year of dealing with the backlog of submitted papers, cajoling authors and referees, proof-reading and managing the subscription databases. Our ambitions for the journal were modest by present day standards. Our editorial introductions, which were sometimes difficult and time consuming to write, lasted only two years and were replaced by author abstracts. In contrast, the ‘Debates and Reports’ section, introduced to facilitate the dissemination of polemic and discussion alongside the publication of substantive articles, thrived. We endeavoured to build on Antipode’s already established reputation for coverage of urban political economy, uneven development and environmental issues and to give space to new (to the journal), especially feminist, voices and in this and we were reasonably successful. Perhaps our one disappointment was the paucity of publications which engaged directly with issues of what we described in the ‘Notes to Contributors’ as ‘praxis’; but these Reagan-Thatcher years were difficult times for political action and it proved easier to engage in the ‘battle of ideas’ than the ‘battle on the streets’.
Eric handed over to Dick Walker in 1992 and Linda McDowell took over the UK end a year later in 1993. We passed on a journal which we hoped had maintained its long-established place as the foremost voice of radical geography. Certainly it was successful by all the conventional measures, now four issues a year with an impact factor that placed it among the top five geography journals - irony of ironies, Antipode the premiere voice of radical geography had become firmly established in the mainstream.
My Days at the Helm of the Good Ship Antipode
Dick Walker (1991-1999)
My stint as co-editor of Antipode seems a world away now, even though it was only the Nineties (1991-99). I was delighted to be asked to do it, at a moment in my early 40s when my career was well established with a couple of books under my belt and my ambitions were high for the Left in geography (and for geography in the world of ideas). Now that I’m a disciplinary Old Fart, with more perspective and fewer ambitions left, I can reflect back with pleasure on my accomplishments. In the event, however, it was often a daunting responsibility being editor and difficult times for Antipode and the kind of Left it represented.
I took over the North American side of the editorship from Eric Sheppard, while Joe Doherty stayed on in Britain for two years as co-editor. Joe steadied the ship while I got my bearings, and the pipeline was relatively full for a time. After Joe moved on, Linda McDowell came on board in 1993. Linda’s arrival gave the whole enterprise a shot in the arm, and we were able to reconfirm Antipode’s commitment to the broadest kind of left project in geography (I say reconfirm, because there was a common perception, as Linda says, that Antipode was a male Marxist holdover – something I did not believe). Linda was a pleasure to work with.
Being editor wasn’t easy at first, I must admit; it’s a daunting responsibilty evaluating people’s submissions, finding reviewers, recommending revisions, and – most of all – keeping to a publishing schedule. Fortunately, I had some terrific help from a couple of graduate student assistants, Kate Davis and Kathy Johnson, and we got a system down for handling the work flow and keeping on top of things. That allowed us to run all the compilation work for issues of the journal through Berkeley. Being editor was, in all likelihood, more of a slog then than it is today but easier than it had been in the early days of Antipode.
At first, the biggest issue facing Antipode seemed to be regularization. After all, the journal had snuck into the margins of the geographical mainstream. Our citation rate was high and we were the reference journal of the Left in the discipline – having survived for twenty years (unlike some others, such as The Insurgent Sociologist). Eric and Joe had changed the format and found a publisher, upgrading Antipode from its artisanal, collectivist days at Clark University. Quite soon in my tenure, Blackwell came calling with an offer we couldn’t refuse, allowing for a further upgrade in looks, pay for a copyeditor, and a fourth issue per year. For reasons of my own aesthetic preferences, I changed the cover into something clean and modern. I even got my Dean to agree to pay for a part-time student editorial assistant, as part of the deal of appointing me to the Chair of the Geography Department at Berkeley in 1993. I was on a roll.
But not for long. Times were changing fast in academia, and the ‘post-prefixed’ revolt was in full throat. Marxism, socialism and the New Left had become passé among young geographers, especially the growing numbers of women. The Left fractured into a host of new projects on gender, culture, consumption, body politics, and philosophy; what it meant to be radical was in question. Worse, Marxism and political economy were seen by some as part of the problem – essentialist, masculine, Eurocentric, realist, and so forth. It was hard watching the Socialist Geography Specialty group growing greyer, and seeing the crowds at AAG meetings gather for yet another panel on deconstruction or the postmodern city.
Antipode was no longer the cutting-edge of radical publishing in Geography, either, as new journals sprang up across the disciplinary landscape: Society & Space, Ecumene, Gender, Place & Culture, and the rest. Many bright young people abandoned us for the new journals and drop-off in article submissions to Antipode was dramatic. The issues from those days seem thinnish by comparison with the chunky numbers that plop on my desk today. Even the radical blush was off the rose, as many young scholars were more interested in getting published than in changing the world. But we held the fort for the materialist left at Antipode, while reaffirming our feminist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist commitments.
Moreover, Linda and I put out some fine issues along the way. I was pleased to reach out to scholars beyond the usual pale of geography, such as sociologists Michael Burawoy and Enzo Mingione, and historian Bill Cronon. And I am delighted to have published some of the first articles of the next generation of leading lights on the geographic left, such as Don Mitchell, Katharyne Mitchell, Bobbie Wilson, Noel Castree, Andy Herod and Melissa Wright. Despite everything, Antipode fulfilled its calling as the place for new, radical voices to be heard.
After a decade at the helm, I was happy to see the journal passed along in 2000 to the team of Jamie Peck and Jane Wills, who brought new energy and new ideas, and who promptly negotiated an even better package from the publishers. Antipode stormed back, as the postmodern wave receded in North America (having profoundly changed the coast of geography in the meantime) and the age of empire (Bush II) reasserted itself. It is gratifying to see the heft and quality of Antipode today, and I take quiet pleasure in noting that no less than five members of the current editorial board are former students of mine.
As the decade drew to a close, I also withdrew from my other public role as Chair (Head) of Department, thoroughly exhausted by the experience. I had changed the face of Berkeley geography in my tenure, but it had not been an easy time. I was relieved to go back to teaching and writing, and happy once again to put out books of my own. It’s funny (but not very) looking back at one’s life and speaking of decades gone by: Antipode was my 40s, and it went by in a flash. But it is a good yardstick to measure a life by, and I’m glad I did it.
Working inside the project: Reflections of a feminist editor
Linda McDowell (1993-1999)
One a cold, late early January evening, I had the shock of my life when Joe Docherty asked me if I’d ever thought of letting my name go forward as editor of Antipode. We were in the bar at the 1992 IBG conference held in Manchester, I think. I had to say that to be honest, I had never even thought about it at all, although, as I had edited Area for some years in the mid 1980s, I did have some editorial experience. But everything else, I thought, disqualified me. At that stage I had never even visited Clark (although by then Blackwell Publishing produced the journal), I wasn’t a Marxist but above all I was a woman – no beard, no beer, no long-term membership of a Capital reading group (instead I was part of a feminist consciousness raising group in the 70s) and to cap it all I had just been appointed to a post at Cambridge in a department where I doubted whether any one then read Antipode let alone published in it. But at least I had had an article in the journal as well as taken part in an Antipode session at an earlier annual conference: a difficult session about class and/or gender, as I remember. Antipode, not for nothing, cherished its tough macho image and for several years had not seemed a welcoming place for apostates. In 1989 Susan Christopherson had been moved to send an angry, powerful piece to the journal about why too many on the Left, especially women, felt ‘outside the project’ established by the early editors.
But Antipode, I also remembered, had probably been the first among all the journals in our discipline to take feminism seriously and to think about the ways in which women’s lives might differ from men’s. Pat Burnett’s paper in the journal in 1973 was, I think, the very first attempt to think about feminist approaches in geography. So, albeit warily, I said yes and in the first issue of 1993 (vol 25, no. 1 p 1-3), Dick Walker and I published our manifesto for the journal after its first 25 years, looking back at its heritage as a radical journal and trying to define an agenda for the future. In that editorial we looked both backwards and forwards, reflecting on the more sober times of the early 1990s than the late 1960s when the journal first appeared. We identified as key issues of the 1990s ‘savage poverty in Africa, despicable inequalities in North America, nationalist warfare in Europe, the break up of the socialist world and the transition to capitalism in China’ (p 2) and, while recognising new theoretical approaches as well as the ‘mutual constitution of race, class and gender identities’ (p 2), we also emphasised the continuing commitment of Antipode to the promotion of social change ‘through politically committed scholarship and the nurturance of critical thought and dissenting voices’ (p 3).
On an everyday basis, we decided to split the world between us and each take the lead on articles from different regions. As I remember I was responsible for Europe, Africa and Australasia while Dick took the Americas and Asia. But we also agreed that the other would deal with papers from people we knew well and this is where the first big test arose. Not long after DW and I took up the reins, one of the ‘grand old men of the left’ submitted a paper in a somewhat ‘drafty’ state. It wasn’t great and Dick wasn’t sure how, or indeed whether, he should handle it. Should he send it out as it was – in a rather unpolished form? Should he give one of the scholars who was criticised therein the right to reply? Between us, we selected a diverse group of referees and anxiously waited for their verdicts which, when they hit our desks, were not entirely positive. It fell to me to relay the news to the author, whom at that time I did not know personally. Suffice it to say he wasn’t pleased and took me to task by mail, and later personally, for my ‘ivory tower detachment’ (his words not mine). All was resolved eventually but this baptism of fire prepared me for the robust responses we received from several potential contributors who thought that the rule that the editors’ decision was final shouldn’t apply to them: a reaction that I expect that all editors have to learn how to deal with.
But between us, DW and I made a good team (or at least we thought so), dealing with each other’s awkward squad; encouraging younger scholars to submit and having great fun with Anne Jones, then the editorial assistant for Antipode at Blackwell USA, when we met for drinks or dinner, and for board meetings, at the AAG and the IBG conferences. Dick was great to work with: quick, incisive and very funny and it was a pleasure to receive his regular emails. Over the seven years of our editorship, we published about 110 papers and while it is invidious to single out particular articles, there were some classics among them that bear re-reading. And what a pleasure it was to hold the hard copy of the journal in our hands every quarter with its masthead ‘a radical journal’ but edited from within at least one elitist institution. Perhaps one of the greatest pleasures for me was eliciting a thoughtful comment on David Harvey’s Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference from Iris Marion Young who sadly died aged only 57 in August 2006. Both she and David Harvey are, in my view, among the most significant commentators on social justice, through both their words and their actions, and I am proud to have solicited their work for Antipode as well as that of a large number of other radical scholars.
Jamie Peck and Jane Wills (2000-2003)
We took over editorship of Antipode at an exhilarating, and slightly unsettling, time. Plan A was that we would, together, replace Linda McDowell, working alongside Dick Walker, who would be able to show us the ropes. This sounded like a great arrangement. Dick had been a mainstay of the journal for some years, while between the two of us we thought we should be able to cover Linda’s remit. Then Jamie moved to Wisconsin and it made sense for him to look after that side of the operation as soon as Dick was ready to pass on the collection of files and folklore that constituted the Antipode “office.” Since he had already done a long stretch, Dick was ready for this moment, and so – in the space of a few months – we found ourselves co-editors of Antipode. This was exciting, if unnerving. But it turned out that our inadvertent “timing” was great. Blackwell were ready to make a significant investment in the journal; its network of supporters across the discipline of geography and way beyond was as committed as ever; and the post-Seattle political climate was opening up new opportunities all over the place.
At the time it felt as though new shoots of political organisation were bursting out of the ground. Thatcher had been dispatched to the dustbin of history in the UK, popular people power had broken the will of the state in the East, and a transnational “movement of movements” was emerging in response to neoliberal globalisation. It was a real honour, and a challenge, to take over the editorial role at Antipode during this time. The upstart Antipode was now looking at middle age, beginning its third decade, with a history it could be really proud of, but some lingering questions about how it would “age”. Would it settle into the mainstream of scholarly journals and put its feet up? Or would it renew and reinvigorate itself again, pulling in a new generation of radical researchers and activists, to confront new challenges? In many respects, geographical challenges were more obvious and pressing than ever – neoliberal globalisation, racialised oppression, the war on terror (imperialism), global warming – and the answer seemed obvious. Antipode was well placed to transcend the doldrums that had afflicted some parts of the Left during the 1980s and 1990s. We needed to draw on the militant tradition of the journal and its deep reservoirs of support, refocusing its remit around some of these new challenges, while bringing new voices into the journal and connecting it with new audiences.
We wanted to make sure that Antipode continued the tradition of publishing strong articles from a wide range of perspectives, but we also sought to build on and out from its founding “project”. To this end, we made space for unrefereed short and polemical interventions at the start of the journal, and longer more in-depth reviews at the back. At the other end of the spectrum, we initiated an Antipode book series, as a means of supporting and disseminating radical scholarship within the increasingly commercialised channels of academic publishing. With the strong support of our board members, we inaugurated the Antipode postgraduate studentship in order to call attention to the work of the new generations of radical geographers entering the field. This studentship attracted dozens applications a year, from across the world and from a wide range of fields and walks of life, making our selection decisions more difficult every year, but boding well for the future. We also institutionalised our presence at the annual geography conferences in the UK and USA, making sure we had a high-profile radical speaker on the agenda each year. Our efforts to internationalise the board of the journal were part of a wider plan to extend its reach, meaningfully, to other parts of the world. But this is an easier thing to say than to achieve. And although we did have an event at the Geographentag in Leipzig in 2002, we felt that we never really managed to break out of our Anglo-American base.
Editing the journal was a real pleasure, in part because we worked well with each other and had the support of Ros Whitehead, who was an absolute dream. Ros kept the whole thing running with Stakanovite efficiency and made it possible for us to keep our focus on the “project” as a whole. We also had the benefit of a great team at Blackwell, who were keen to develop new ideas and supported us in whatever we did. While there was always more we could have done, it seemed like there were new initiatives getting moving all over the place. A few of them, the editorial board and ourselves had a direct hand in – in as far as we were able to tweak the mission and project of the journal in new ways – but more often than not they reflected the energy and ideas of Antipode’s readers. They always kept us on our toes, and if anything were more concerned about the journal’s advancing middle age than we were.
As we said in one of our editorial responses – in this case to the challenge that the journal had gone soft and sold out – in the final analysis, the journal is dependent upon its community of readers, writers and supporters. This was not a cop out. A journal like Antipode is a collective product and it reflects its community. Yes, the editors bear the responsibility of channelling that energy, keeping the journal fresh and open to new ideas, and providing some direction here and there. But without the community of radical scholars “out there”, these efforts would add up to very little. It’s “their” journal, of course, not the editors’ journal. Editors will come and go, but Antipode will carry on!
It’s these relationships with the readership, and the wider community of radical geography, that make Antipode a really different journal. Think about it: if readers of other journals get bored or irritated by what they see, they will simply look elsewhere. If the readers of Antipode get bored or irritated by what they see the journal doing, not only they will say so, they will do something about it. This, it seems to us, is the real strength of Antipode as a radical journal: it has an active and engaged readership, not a passive and distracted “audience”, and that readership cares about, uses, and periodically seeks to change what goes on in the pages of the journal. It is part of what they do, politically.
Editing Antipode was occasionally frustrating but always fun; it was sometimes exhausting but always worth it. The job felt like a weighty responsibility and a great honor, and in retrospect we feel, in equal measure, proud of some of the things we helped accomplish, and relieved that we didn’t screw up. It’s great to see that the journal has continued to grow and flourish in the early years of the twenty-first century. More than middle-aged spread, this has reflected the new political environments that Antipode inhabits, and which it seeks to transform. During our time with the journal, it covered the emergence of the global network against neoliberal globalisation; the rise of the social forums; new forms of imperialist oppression on the one hand and labour organising on the other; the changing intersections of race, class and gender; the environmental movement; and the efforts to foster international critical geographical networks. We feel fortunate to have been involved in some part of this. But more than this, we should celebrate (but never get complacent about) the fact that small-g geography has such a journal. Long may it rudely bloom!