"Farms, Not Prisons:" land, struggle, and solidarity in New York State

Authors: Sara Black*, University of Georgia
Topics: Rural Geography
Keywords: carceral geography, food justice, race, solidarity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom D, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper draws from the author’s experience as an organizer working with the Freedom Food Alliance, a project led by farmers of color in the Hudson Valley, who mobilize food and farmland as organizing tools at the intersection of prison abolition and food justice (Penniman 2015). Mass incarceration in the U.S. is characterized by the disproportionate imprisonment of black and brown people from urban centers, fueling the construction of prisons in rural and white counties (Davis 2003, Alexander 2010, Gilmore 2007). Where rural economies have eroded under globalization, mechanization, and the legacies of U.S. farmland consolidation, degradation, and crisis, prison development is sought as an economic "fix" (Gilmore 2007, Bonds 2013). Many farmers, advocates, abolitionists, and black liberation activists in New York are thus identifying a shared stake in transforming rural economies and politics. My collaborators interrogate the interlocking histories of agricultural and carceral landscapes in the U.S., as well as geographies of land access, food apartheid, and extraction of resources and bodies in New York City and the Hudson Valley, to produce vibrant movements for black life and build solidarities across racial difference in rural spaces. We ask, how can disrupting and traversing racialized, classed, and gendered urban/rural divisions generate transformative relationships and emancipatory political possibilities? The Freedom Food Alliance centers the economic, emotional, and everyday lives of incarcerated people and their families, and navigates social and political dislocations across the urban/rural divide in order to build power responding to the interlocking crisis of mass incarceration and food apartheid.

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