Forty Years Later: Harold Rose’s Geographies of Despair and Contentious Sites of Belonging

Type: Paper
Theme: Black Geographies
Sponsor Groups: Black Geographies Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Napoleon C3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Organizers: Aretina Hamilton, Amy Shimshon-Santo
Chairs: Aretina Hamilton


The issue of police brutality and state-sanctioned violence has served as a dominant theme in the formation of American cities. Some of the earliest occurrences of police violence coincided with political gains for African Americans during the era of Reconstruction. As freed people cultivated black geographies, mob violence, aided by local police, ensured that their freedom was precarious (Alexander 2012). Two of the earliest cases occurred in Memphis, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana, where was violence initiated by white mobs and aided by local police in response to anxiety surrounding black progression. Consequently, the rise of violence perpetuated towards black civilians became a reoccurring theme in American history. As Beckett and Murakawa (2012) have noted, there is an emergence of a shadow carceral state “that operates in more low-profile, pedestrian ways that increasingly punish marginalized groups, especially the economically disadvantaged, undocumented populations, and Black and Latino people.”

Geographers have detailed how this specific form of violence is rooted in the landscape. During his 1978 presidential address entitled “Geographies of Despair,” former AAG President Harold Rose challenged geographers to produce research that illustrated the spatiality and complexity of African American landscapes. More recently, Rashad Shabazz’s (2015) study of the South Side Chicago demonstrated how African Americans, the city reproduced carcerality through its architecture, policing, surveillance and urban planning in African American communities. Ultimately, the place-based nature of state-sanctioned violence and other exclusionary practices are fundamental in elucidating how and why “Geographies of Despair” continue to exist.

For this panel, we are seeking papers that explore the effect that state-sanctioned violence has on the occupation of urban space. We are especially interested in work that revisits or builds upon Harold Rose’s Geographies of Despair. We are also interested in papers that involve empirical and theoretical engagements with black geographies, racialized landscapes, critical race theory, gender/sexuality, and memory.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Aretina Hamilton Georgia Gwinnett College - Lawrenceville, GA 7 10:00 AM
Presenter Erin Royals*, Rutgers University, Newark’s Third Ward: Geography of Despair, Geography of Resistance 15 10:07 AM
Presenter Vanessa Lovelace*, Brandeis University, On Geographic Memory: The Political Mappings of Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia 15 10:22 AM
Presenter Aretina Hamilton, University of Kentucky, Ken Foote*, University of Connecticut, Police Torture in Chicago: Theorizing Social Justice in a Racialized City 15 10:37 AM
Presenter Shana Griffin*, , Black Women and the Spatialization of Racial-Sexual Violence in Land-Use Planning, Housing Policy, and Urban Development 15 10:52 AM
Discussant Audrey Kobayashi Queen's University 20 11:07 AM
Discussant Aretina Hamilton Georgia Gwinnett College - Lawrenceville, GA 13 11:27 AM

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