For the upcoming American Association of Geographers (AAG) meeting, I’m co-organizing a two-part paper session on the theme “Global Black Geographies: Racialized Spaces, Black Space-Making and Theorizing in Africa & Diaspora Contexts.”
This paper session aims to bring together critical scholars (feminist/womanist, southern, subaltern, postcolonial, decolonial, Marxist, Pan-Africanist, etc.) to discuss Black (African and/or African Diaspora) spatial experiences and practices in the context of white supremacy and hegemonic race-based design and planning. In geography and related disciplines, a wide range of scholars push our critical understanding of the ways in which white supremacy, racism, and hegemonic race-based planning and design affect how we as Black peoples live, experience, navigate, and survive in urban spaces, as well as the diverse spatial practices that we employ to subvert, resist, thrive, and create communal and liberatory spaces. These investigations demonstrate the continuing impacts of white supremacy and racism in settler colonial contexts, as well as the ways in which racialized processes and institutions continue to manifest through urban and spatial imaginaries in postcolonial contexts: “black urbanism” in the UK context (Goodwin 2010), “black sense of place” in the US (McKittrick 2011), “hair braiding epistemologies” in Johannesburg (Matsipa 2017), “black placemaking” in Chicago (Hunter et al 2016), as well as the reproduction of colonial racism in postcolonial Ghana (Pierre 2013).
This panel session attempts to traverse the geographical boundaries that often separate our theorizing and scholarly conversations. In organizing this session, we aim not to essentialize Blackness, but rather to seek connections while embracing the spectrum of our subjectivities produced through our histories and experiences. We ask: How is dehumanizing and racist planning and design, emergent from slavery, colonialism, apartheid and segregation, reproduced in ‘modern’ urban and spatial imaginaries in settler colonial and postcolonial cities? How might we talk not just within but also across our African and African Diaspora geographies to critique the mechanisms of displacement and containment employed in settler and postcolonial cities, and to make visible how these techniques move across different regimes? What frameworks and concepts enable us to shift, stretch, and expand intellectually to theorize about spaces, space-making practices of Black peoples, as well as to reflect on our own experiences of conducting research as Black peoples navigating Blackness in different contexts? How does our theorizing (and theories) move? How might working across deeply embedded Africa-Africa Diaspora divides enable us to connect our critiques of white supremacy and racialization processes, and its linkages to coloniality, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy, to map global Black geographies?
Our two-part session will include a first focus on creating and defining communities, and a second session on displacements and movements.