Anti-Fascism and the (neo-)Colonial Question: A Radical Geographical Concern

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Stefan KIPFER, York University, Canada
The theories that inform current debates about power, space and (in-)justice in radical geography have deep historical roots. For example, Lefebvre’s critique of everyday life, without which the idea of the right to the city and the production of space are unthinkable, benefitted in no small way from his analysis of the mystification brought about by nationalism and fascism in the 1930s. This paper will place Lefebvre’s interventions at the time within debates about anti-fascist strategy during the time of the French Popular Front. More specifically, it will confront Lefebvre’s insights with what is widely recognized as a crucial aspect of French politics in the 1930: a nationalization of the French left (above all Lefebvre’s own Communist Party) and a concomitant struggle among the nascent independence movements in the French empire (for example Messali Hadj’s Parti du peuple algérien) to define themselves as both anti-colonial and anti-fascist. Given the return of (anti-)fascism in the current conjuncture, which is strongly shaped by an anti-Muslim racist common sense as well as a renewed struggle over public space, the debates of the 1930s are not irrelevant for contemporary debates about space, violence, and (in)justice. In the conclusion, I will draw on my own empirical work on anti-fascism in contemporary France to draw links between debates about the national question in the 1930s and contemporary arguments for and against strategies to counter the right-populist and neofascist right with a new kind of nationalization of left political strategy : claims to national economic sovereignty. In longer historical context, such arguments lead us to an urgent, and also very old problem: what are the prospects for an effective and spatially nuanced articulation of anti-fascist, anti-colonial, and anti-imperial political currents?