Exploring Black Women’s Healing Spaces as A Praxis of Black Feminist Imaginaries

Authors: Ree Botts*, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Women, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Black Feminist Geographies, Black Geographies, Black Feminist Thought, Healing Spaces, Black Sacred Space, Black Spatial Imaginaries, Creative Space-Making
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


My work explores how Black Women in Oakland create self actualizing healing spaces that provide an ontological challenge to the hegemonic logics that animate rampant gentrification and "urban renewal" efforts. I examine the material geography of these spaces; their proximity to the transitioning urban center, their visual aesthetic appeal, and the affective relationship Black women build to them. The process of cultivating the unique essence of these extremely intimate enclaves is an act of self sustaining resistance to external geographies where “urban renewal”, in theory and in practice, impedes on the sacredness of Black life. The existence of these spaces reject minimizing narratives of displacement as the sole experience of Black Oakland, as they display agency and power in the age of gentrification. Hence, my focus here is to illuminate the praxis of Black feminist creative space making, from alter construction to interior design, and to explore how the materiality of curated objects in the space, coupled with intentional acts of communal healing and self care, might create an experience that inspires an interconnectedness between Black women’s selves and each other. My theoretical framework draws from Black feminist thought and Black geographical analysis. My methodological approach is based in anthropology. I engage ethnography, person-centered interviews, and participant observation. I am additionally inspired by Black feminist geographic texts like Katherine McKittrick’s Demonic Grounds and Latoya Eaves’ Space, Place, and Identity in Conversation: Queer Black Women Living in the Rural U.S. South, each of which help shape my theoretical and methodological approach.

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