The Berkeley Black Geographies Project at UC Berkeley is committed to the material study of Black life. It is guided by the principal assertion that Blackness cannot be reduced to cultural abstraction or mere corporeal phenomena. Through the project, 'geography' is pursued as a productive analytic capable of exploring, examining, and determining Blackness's lived experiences, conceptual limits, and theoretical purchase. Furthermore, Berkeley Black Geographies approaches Blackness as an analytical modality that gives insight and shape to the concepts and processes of spatial formation. Ultimately, race and place are understood as mutually constituted and operationally linked. The result is the demand that social and political processes, inherently determined by spatial relations, can never be fully understood absent a racial (understood as Black) analysis.

 

Jovan Scott Lewis started the Berkeley Black Geographies Project in 2016 after joining the Geography Department at the University of California, Berkeley.  Across the areas of programming, pedagogy, and publishing and through the proactive recruitment of graduate students and faculty, the project has grown to represent the central intellectual and institutional heart of the Geography department. Thus, Geography at UC Berkeley has become an institutional leader in the emergent discipline of Black Geographies. 

 

The project was inspired by and is a contribution to the deep commitment and work of Black geographers, who for decades organized and resisted against Geography's lack of concern for or interest in the Black experience. That inattention overlooked the efforts of a generation of Black geographers who worked to intellectually and institutionally build within the discipline and who did seminal work outside of it.