Mapping Blackness in New Mexico

Authors: Natasha Howard*, University of New Mexico
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Ethnic Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Black, geography,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the spatial practices that have been enacted in New Mexico to render Black people both invisible and hypervisible. I argue that in New Mexico, Black people are mapped as foreign interlopers. Blackness is ultimately displaced in a state that has been historically constructed as non-Black. I borrow from geographer, Sherene Razack’s notion of mapping and unmapping. Razack (2002) asserts that spatial mythologies serve the purpose of establishing racial hierarchy and tell us who belongs and who does not. This paper confronts the various manifestations of Black dispossession present in what I refer to as belonging narratives. I assert that antiblack narratives also appear in counter-hegemonic and radical discourses emerging from non-Anglo people who are also invested in producing territorial claims to the space. Ideas about who belongs and who does not, are present in the ways some groups are spiritually identified with the land. These narratives also serve to keep Black people in their place, outside of New Mexico. Secondly, this paper proposes to chart new cartography by revealing the ways in which Blacks in New Mexico have made Black spaces that defied the attempts to annihilate their presence and their contributions to the state. I argue that African Americans have actively sought to disrupt the antiblack narrative through establishing Black communities that reassert Black presence. This paper highlight two such communities, one that was organized in a small town in Northern New Mexico in the 1800s and another that was established in Albuquerque in the 1930s.

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