Society Despite the State

An Experiment in ‘Counterfactual Statism’


  • Gerónimo Barrera University of Texas, Austin
  • Anthony Ince Cardiff University


Anarchism, statism, counterfactualism, literature, imagination


Geography as a discipline has its foundations in colonialist, imperialist, capitalist and nation-building endeavours. The state has been central to its institutionalisation and has shaped in many ways the epistemic frameworks that continue to dictate how geographical knowledge is produced. This intervention is part of an ongoing project in which the authors seek to decentre the dominance of the state in geographical imaginations and reignite a critical self-examination of anarchist thinking on the state; a gaze the authors term post-statism. We contribute efforts to unpack and disrupt the prevalence of the state as an indisputable, intrinsic human institution that is essential to our contemporary and globalised world. This paper builds on radical and anti-authoritarian perspectives to interrogate how the state could be expounded from multiple purviews. In order to convey the latter, we examine a fundamental moment in the state’s understanding and representation through a counterfactual engagement with statism. We draw on non-academic sources (sci-fi literature) to question what may have happened if we had not invented the state. This point seeks to dislocate statist thought through critiques and imaginaries that question our reality – indeed, the separation of reality and fiction itself – and bring into focus other worlds.


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How to Cite

Barrera, G., & Ince, A. (2021). Society Despite the State: An Experiment in ‘Counterfactual Statism’. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(2), 214–221. Retrieved from