Re-Earthing as Abolitionist Praxis

Authors: Nik Heynen*, University of Georgia
Topics: Social Geography
Keywords: Abolition, solidarity, liberation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: 8216, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


I am interested in thinking more about what James Baldwin meant when in 1955 he said “The people who think of themselves as White have the choice of becoming human or irrelevant” and the ways in which this can be expressed through re-Earthing as abolitionist praxis. A closely related question I want to explore here within a framework of abolition ecology is: “can a colonizer become an abolitionist?” I will explore these questions as geographically embodied in histories and ongoing struggles on Sapelo Island, Georgia, currently home of the largest/most-intact remaining Gullah Geechee community in the U.S., and historically home to the Planation of Thomas Spalding. Through unfolding solidarity with members of the Saltwater Geechee community on Sapelo we are working to repurpose agricultural knowledge, skill and land once used to create white wealth held together through white supremacist logics and power relations toward more liberatory politics in line with the unrealized political promises of emancipation. A goal of our efforts are to consider how might greater overlap between Whiteness and humanity, as centrally connected to Baldwin's question, lead to a complete reconfiguration of socioecological relations and how would Black liberation lead to a complete re-configuration of the planet?

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