Charting a Course: The Potential Bricolage of Anarchism and Geography

The revolution in geography that Kropotkin and Reclus initiated well over a century ago remains tied to an as yet unfulfilled social revolution based upon anarchist principles and practices. Their prescient insights have nevertheless altered the practices of contemporary geographers and planning professionals in profound ways, and their ideas continue to present a challenge to all of the spatial disciplines and their practitioners. In one sense, the challenge is the same as that posed by Kropotkin a century ago: the need for geography to reinvigorate active exploration of local environments as a means of fostering more critical social analysis, developing more effective networks of resistance, and spurring the creative incubation of alternative social and work environments to meet real needs and unmet desires. Questions that remain concern how best to accomplish this mission. How, for example, can geography better employ social anarchist principles to catalyze the active involvement of people at the local level in the creative processes of environmental study? What methods might enable the study of space and its transformation to support struggles for social justice and ecological responsibility while extending free and creative expression? How do we deploy geographic knowledge to invite rather than stifle dialog among people with differing perspectives and experientially derived expertise? How can the powerful spatial tools of federations and networks be better used to link social movements across space? These are questions that would have interested Kropotkin and Reclus greatly.