Against the backdrop of the bordered and extractive histories and presence of European colonialism, enslavement, and genocide, sitting in a prison in the 1970s Huey P Newton – Black Panther co-founder and errant child of African diaspora – imagined the world otherwise. Newton’s theory of ‘intercommunalism’, as fleshed out in his writings and speeches, dislodged the then popular notion that anti-colonial nationalism was the antidote to Euro-American empire, but at the same time managed to question the legitimacy of a borderless world in which racial capitalism was the only currency. Drawing on his thought, this piece explores the promise of a rupture from Eurocentric conceptions of time and space.

Specifically, by thinking with and through Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s postulation that “freedom is a place”, the piece asks how ‘abolition’ can help complicate and disrupt dominant understandings of boundaries and European territoriality. It posits a different way of ‘place-making’ one in which ‘Africa’ does not stand as synecdoche for ‘oppressed’.

Nivi Manchanda is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London. She's interested in the politics of race and colonialism, and questions of borders, space, and abolition. She's the author of Imagining Afghanistan: the History and Politics of Imperial Knowledge (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and co-editor of Race and Racism in International Relations: Confronting the Global Colour Line (Routledge, 2015).