JOVAN SCOTT LEWIS
I am an assistant professor of Geography and African-American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The postcolonial formulary of the Caribbean and its Diaspora are core to my work. For that reason my research focuses on the experiences and articulations of everyday individual subjectivity, the circumstances of state economic underdevelopment, and of the ethical notions that are produced by the comprehensive condition of impoverishment. In my first book project, Scammer's Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica, forthcoming this year from University of Minnesota Press, I explore how structural and enduring poverty in Jamaica is responded to through crime. In Scammer's Yard, criminality serves as a reparative mechanism, made logical by the recognized crime of underdevelopment induced by the postcolonial economic stricture of structural adjustment. My current research continues to pursue these core themes in the United States through an analysis of the value and function of blackness as a means of economic and political transformation in Tulsa, OK. I started the Berkeley Black Geographies Project in 2016 after joining the Geography Department at the University of California, Berkeley. With faculty colleagues, Brandi Thompson Summers and Sharad Chari, the project is now a collaborative effort working to advance a contemporary understanding of Geography and other disciplinary analyses of spatial relations through the centering of Blackness as an encompassing framework.
BRANDI THOMPSON SUMMERS
Brandi Thompson Summers is an assistant professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research builds on epistemological and methodological insights from cultural and urban geography, urban sociology, African American studies, and media studies by examining the cultural, political, and economic dynamics by which race and space are reimagined and reordered. Brandi's book, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (UNC Press), explores how aesthetics and race converge to locate or map blackness in Washington, D.C. In it, she demonstrates the way that competing notions of blackness structure efforts to raise capital and develop land in the gentrifying city. Her current book project, tentatively titled Routes of Race, Resistance, and the Geographies of Belonging in Oakland, California, is an interdisciplinary study that examines the complex ways in which uses of space and placemaking practices inform productions of knowledge and power. Brandi has published several articles and essays that analyze the relationship between race, power, aesthetics, and urbanization that appear in both academic and popular publications, including the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), ASAP/Journal, QED, Public Books, and The Funambulist. Her research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, among others.
Sharad Chari is a geographer who has worked between Marxist agrarian studies, historical ethnography, Black Marxism and Southern feminisms. He has been a fellow of the Michigan Society of Fellows, and has taught across geography, history and anthropology at the University of Michigan, the London School of Economics, and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), where he is affiliated to the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) and the Oceanic Humanities in the Global South. Sharad is author of Fraternal Capital: Peasant-workers, self-made men and globalization in provincial India (2004), co-editor of The Development Reader (2008) and Other Geographies (2017), and is on the editorial team of Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory. His book in process, Apartheid Remains, is based on long-term resarch since 2002 in Durban, South Africa, in neighborhoods in an industrial-residential patchwork landscape, a valley that traps pollution and foists its burden on people racialized ‘Indian’ and ‘Coloured’ in South African racial capitalism, many of whom found radical political alternatives in coalitional Black politics. This book, and a series of articles on Black thought have opened two new areas of research. The first picks up on Black women's militancy and queer futurity during and after South Africa's unfinished revolution. The second interrogates the notion of 'oceanic economy,' revisiting Durban as part of the South African and Mozambican littoral, Mauritius, Reunion and Mayotte, in non-linear oceanic cross-currents linking the Black Atlantic to the Southern African Indian Ocean.
I am a critical human geographer and interdisciplinary social scientist broadly interested in the racial politics of migration and citizenship, inequality, social movements, and Black geographies. My work sits at the intersection of critical public policy studies, diaspora theory, Black European studies, and postcolonial/feminist science and technology studies. I currently serve as Secretary-Treasurer of the Black Geographies Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. I am an executive committe member of California Italian Studies, a member of the editorial boards of Environment and Planning D: Society & Space and Critical Ethnic Studies, and sit on the international advisory board for ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies. In addition, I am project manager and faculty member of the Black Europe Summer School, a two-week intensive course on citizenship, race, and ethnic relations held each summer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My current book project Citizenship and Diasporic Ethics: Youth Politics in the Black Mediterraneanasks why and how Black Italian activists (specifically, the Italian-born children of African immigrants) have taken up national citizenship as a privileged terrain of struggle over race and membership in Italy.