Fleshing out the geographies of social movements: Colombia's Pacific coast black communities and the 'aquatic space'

Oslender, U. (2004) Fleshing out the geographies of social movements: Colombia's Pacific coast black communities and the 'aquatic space'. Political Geography, 23, pp. 957-985. (doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2004.05.025)

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The intersections between the concepts of space, place and resistance have recently received increasing attention from geographers dedicated to the study of social movements. Space and place are not merely seen as providing a physical background for mobilisations but as mutually constitutive of social movement agency. Yet, critics of theoretical frameworks drawn up by geographers have often rightly pointed to the lack of convincing empirical evidence presented in their support. This paper addresses these critiques by offering a theoretically informed and empirically grounded account of recent mobilisations by the social movement of black communities in the Pacific coast region of Colombia. Drawing on both the objective aspects of place and the subjective feelings that are derived from living in a place, I will show how these mechanisms have impacted on the specific spatial organising forms adopted by black communities. In particular, I will propose the concept of ‘aquatic space’ as a set of spatialised social relationships among Afro-Colombians, and show how these concrete everyday geographies have been drawn upon by black communities in the establishment of community councils along river basins. The paper argues that to make a strong point for more spatially sensitive analyses of social movements, geographers have to sustain their theoretical frameworks with concrete empirical data that not only illustrate spatial processes at play, but also convincingly demonstrate their very embeddedness in social practice. I thus argue for a strong consideration of ethnographies as a privileged research methodology to flesh out the geographies of social movements.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Oslender, Dr Ulrich
Authors: Oslender, U.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Political Geography

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
301661ESRC Postdoctoral FellowshipJohn BriggsEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)T026271170School of Geographical and Earth Sciences