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Black Geographies and the Politics of Place
The global histories of black people cannot be told without addressing powerful geographical shifts: massive forced migrations, land dispossession,and legal as well as informal structures of segregation. From the Middle Passage to the “Whites Only” signposts of US apartheid, the black Diasporic experience is rooted firmly in the politics of place.
Literature has long explored the cultural differences in the experience of blackness in different quarters of the Diaspora. But what are the real differences between being a maroon in the hills of Jamaica and a runaway in the swamps of Florida? How does location impact repression and resistance, both on the ground and in the terrain of political imagination?
Enter Black Geographies. In this path-breaking collection, twelve authors interrogate the intersection between space and race. For instance, confronted with the importance of space in black cultural creation and preservation, some activists have sought to protect or restore black historical sites such as Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street” and the African Burial Ground in New York City. For the dispossessed, all markers of history and belonging, including cultural property, become paramount. Yet each of these sites has in common acts of racial hatred and state terrorism that have left few of the historical structures standing—making them unlikely candidates for preservation. This begs the question: Is it even possible that advocating for preserving historic locations can act as a vehicle for social justice and spur community redevelopment?
Other contributors consider how Bob Marley’s music maps a path to freedom, whether Malcolm Little could have emerged as Malcolm X outside of a black urban center, and if “lost” communities can be recovered.
About the Author
Katherine McKittrick is the author of Demonic Grounds: Black Women and Cartographies of Struggle. Clyde Woods is the author of Development Arrested: Race, Power, and the Blues in the Mississippi Delta.