Urban specters: Black women’s geographies and the afterlives of property

Authors: Asha Best*, Clark University, Margaret Ramirez*, Stanford University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: black geographies, haunting, art, property, urban
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, we draw methodological and theoretical inspiration from black geographies in order to think through the relationship between racial capitalism, conceptions of property and contemporary processes of urban restructuring. In particular, we are interested in how Black women's geographies serve as an archive that might illuminate modes of urban restructuring that fall under what Ananya Roy (2017) names as racial banishment. We look to two performance art pieces that took place in Brooklyn, NY and Oakland, CA -- Nona Faustine’s (2012-2016) “White Shoes” and House/Full of Black Women’s (2016) “Now You See Me”. In both “White Shoes” and “Now You See Me” Black women artists channel antebellum figures, mapping plantation geographies in each city. Through the spectre of the plantation, we argue that both pieces illuminate the ways in which long histories of dispossession continue to haunt the urban. Following Christina Sharpe, we look to these two pieces to explore what haunting tells us of the “afterlives of property” (2016: 15).

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