The Black Geographic: Praxis, Resistance, Futurity

This volume edited by Jovan Scott Lewis and Camilla Hawthorne, and is forthcoming from Duke University Press. The volumes emerges from the Black Geographies Symposium, organized Jovan, Sharad Chari, Camilla, and Kaily Heitz, that was held at the University of California, Berkeley from October 11-12, 2017. This gathering brought together an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars interested in the ways that attention to the geographies of Black life can contribute to a broader understanding of racism and inequality. Building on the intellectual labor of generations of Black scholars (including the 2007 volume Black Geographies and the Politics of Place edited by Clyde Woods and Katherine McKittrick), this collection is intended to serve as both a handbook and roadmap for Black Geographies. Cumulatively, the chapters in this volume lay out the key areas of inquiry that fall under the umbrella of Black Geographies, which include the theoretical interventions and innovations of Black Geographic scholarship; multidisciplinary methodologies and epistemological concerns; and new directions for future research. In particular, this collection engages with Black Geographies in and beyondNorth America, considering the spatial politics of Blackness in sites as far-ranging as the Caribbean, Brazil, West Africa, and the Maghreb.

 

The diverse engagements with Black Geographies assembled in this volume have important implications for both Geography and Black Studies. The field of Critical Human Geography has made influential contributions to the study of political economy and the global processes of ongoing dispossession, foregrounding the inextricable connections between the production of space and the production of inequality. Nonetheless, mainstream geography has tended to sideline questions of race, or at least approach them as secondary, super-structural elements atop the material “base” of capitalism. Thinking with Katherine McKittrick, Clyde Woods, Bobby Wilson, and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, we identify Black Geographies as formations constituted through material political-economic processes that produce power and inequality, opposition, and state-sanctioned violence. But just as Woods’ masterful work on plantation capitalism turned to a careful analysis of the Blues as praxis, the tools necessary to diagnose Black Geographies must always be wide-ranging and always attentive to the interplay of materialist and poetic moments. Responding to the wealth of contemporary work that stresses poetics, imagination, representation, and performance, we insist throughout this volume that such concerns be meaningfully considered alongside matters of social power and inequality, and of capitalism. Thus, the contributions collected in the volume put forth the argument that Black Geographies are always poetic, political-economic, and material. 

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