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(Re)(Dis)Locating Black Geographies: Grappling with Present-Futures Space, Knowledge, and Practice of the Black Geographic

Type: Panel
Theme: Expanding the Community of Geography
Sponsor Groups: Black Geographies Specialty Group, Caribbean Specialty Group
Organizers: Alex Moulton, Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen
Chairs: Alex Moulton


Black Geographies has achieved increasing visibility within geography as an epistemological orientation and political practice that foregrounds Black socio-spatial struggles and knowledges. Focusing on the enduring presence of Black life and Black space within and against geographies of economic, racial, sexual, and political domination, Black geographic scholarship produces counter-cartographies to disrupt ‘traditional human geographies’ that negate Black life. As an interdisciplinary approach that combines conceptualizations of space, race, and place from across the tradition of Black thought and freedom struggle, scholars in Black Geographies are intervening in and from conversations across the social sciences and humanities. Black Geographies scholarship now addresses the carceral state, cultural production, colonialism, immigration and diaspora, queer/trans* space and identity, environmental justice and climate action, and historical and contemporary transnational social movements of the Black diaspora. The convergences notwithstanding, genealogies derived from the Black Radical Tradition, Black Feminism, and Afro-pessimism orient how these themes get examined and map the implications for Black life in divergent ways. Black Geographies is at a crossroads.

The increased legibility and adoption of Black Geographies is both a cause for celebration and question since at its core is a ‘poetics of questioning’ which critiques normalized interpretative schemes, academic disciplinary rules, and stable systems of knowledge (McKittrick 2006: xxiii). As Katherine McKittrick cautions, losing sight of these poetics results in narratives of Black life that is reducible to the body violated by anti-blackness and racial violence. In such cases Black Geographies become about bodies, violence, and hegemonic structures. At the same time, other scholars argue canonizing scholarship focused on the Americas constitutes a “Middle Passage Epistemology” which excludes the experience of Black diasporas in other geographies. As Camilla Hawthorne points out, Black Geographies’ spatial, relational epistemology offers the possibility for tracing connections between heterogeneous Black disaporas’ and African communities’ survivance within globalizing racial capitalism and white supremacist forms of modernity.

This panel explores the ‘demonic grounds’ as a ‘current space’ and ‘space for the possible’ of Black Geographies. Considering the present debates and the stakes for "Black futures, panelists will discuss, among other things:

· The forms of Black life given space in Black Geographies

· The ways Black Geographies are currently taking place/space

· How Black Geographies is doing space/place

· Black Geographies solidarities across racialized, sexualized, and other dis/possessed groups

· The future of Black Geographies, Black Geographic hope, and Black futurit


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Jovan Lewis University of California - Berkeley 15
Panelist Zaira Simone CUNY - Graduate Center 15
Panelist Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen Clark University 15
Discussant LaToya Eaves Global Studies and Human Geography 10
Discussant Brian Williams Mississippi State University 10

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