Schedule | Session Descriptions

Black Geographies Symposium Schedule

Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017

Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center

9 am Arrival and Registration

9:30 am Introductory Remarks

9:45am-11:45am Session 1: ‘Black Matters are Spatial Matters’

Moderator: Sharad Chari (UC Berkeley)

Jordana Matlon (American University)

Danielle Purifoy (Duke University)

Mia White (The New School)

Kirstie Dorr (UC San Diego)

Treva Ellison (Dartmouth) and Ronald Morrison (Parson’s School for Design)

Imani Robinson (Independent)

12 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch Break

1:15 - 3:15 pm Session 2: ‘Fear of a Black Planet’

Moderator: Tianna Paschel (UC Berkeley)

Kenton Card (UCLA)

Iman Mohamed (Harvard University) and Ilyas Abukar (University of Maryland)

Diana Negrin (University of San Francisco)

Anna Brand (UC Berkeley)

Solange Muñoz (University of Tennessee)

Kishi Animashaun Ducre (Syracuse University)

3:15-3:30 pm Tea/Coffee Break

3:30 - 5:30 pm Session 3: Geographic Blackness

Moderator: Jovan Lewis (UC Berkeley)

Sara Kaplan (UC San Diego)

Rashad Shabazz (Arizona State University)

Vanessa Valdes (The City College of New York)

Ola Mohammed (York University)

Brandi Summers (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Ampson Hagan (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Thursday, Oct 12, 2017

Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center.

9 am Arrival and Registration

9:30 am Remarks by Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center Staff

9:45am-11:45am Session 4: Situating Black Geographies

Moderator: Camilla Hawthorne (UC Berkeley)

Lisa Bates (Portland State University) and Sharita Towne (Pacific Northwest College of Art)

Lindsey Dillon (UC Santa Cruz)

Jessica Kenyatta Walker (UC Davis)

C.N.E. Corbin (UC Berkeley)

Judith Madera (Wake Forest University)

Todne Thomas (Harvard Divinity School)

12 pm- 1 pm Lunch Break

1:15 - 3:15 pm Session 5 - The Capaciousness of Black Liberation

Moderator: Kaily Heitz (UC Berkeley)

Matt Miller (University of Southern California)

Winter Rae Schneider (UCLA)

Michael Dumas (UC Berkeley)

Savannah Kilner (UCLA)

Willie Wright (Florida State University)

LaToya Eaves (Middle Tennessee State University)

3:15 - 3:30 pm Tea/Coffee Break

3:30 - 5:00 pm Keynote: Katherine McKittrick

5:00- 5:15 pm Concluding Remarks: Chandra Bhimull

5:30pm Reception

Session Descriptions

1. ‘Black Matters are Spatial Matters’

The concise statement “Black matters are spatial matters” is from Katherine McKittrick. Thinking with McKittrick, Clyde Woods, Bobby Wilson, and Ruthie Gilmore, we identify Black Geographies as formations constituted through material political-economic processes that produce power and inequality, opposition, and state-sanctioned violence. Just as Woods’ masterful work on plantation capitalism turned to a careful analysis of the Blues as praxis, the tools necessary to diagnose Black Geographies have to be wide-ranging and always attentive to the interplay of materialist and poetic moments. Responding to the wealth of contemporary work that stresses poetics, imagination, representation, and performance, we insist on that these concerns be meaningfully considered alongside matters of social power and inequality, and of capitalism, thus motivating the first proposition: Black Geographies are always poetic, political-economic and material.

2. ‘Fear of a Black Planet’

Anti-black racism takes many fronts and forms that are familiar across the global experiences of Black people and more generally of all marginalized places and people. How might thinking with Black Geographies help us see the resonances between sites, keeping in mind that some forms of circulation might work covertly? How, for instance, might, the resurgent spectacularization of lynchings in the contemporary US become viewed through its global dispersal, as in contemporary Muslim and Dalit lynching across India? The reduction of specific forms of life draws new sustenance through the overt and covert circulation of anti-blackness as the “Fear of a Black Planet” (to quote Public Enemy) becomes key to the interconnected social and ecological crises that define our burning planet. Our second proposition, therefore, is: Black Geographies points to the planetary circulation of anti-black violence, both through and beyond the vorticity of the Black Atlantic.

3. Geographic Blackness

Black Geographies necessarily draw on the intellectual histories, sensibilities, and politics of critical race, black feminist, African Diaspora, and Queer studies. These disciplines are often concerned with the ‘being’ of blackness, with blackness therefore necessarily sitting within the register of subjectivity. This session, “Geographic Blackness,” considers the capability of geographic frameworks to explore, examine, and understand Black imaginaries and experiences. Taking its cue from McKittrick, who suggests, “that space and place give black lives meaning,” and that those black lives are “necessarily geographic,” this session asks when blackness is often considered within the scope of the subject, how can critical approaches to spatiality contribute to contemporary theorizations concerning the condition of blackness? Our third proposition therefore, is: Black Geographies, as a geographical categorization, serves as a mode of analysis of blackness and makes a meaningful intervention to the discipline of Black Studies.

4. Situating Black Geographies

The powerful legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the influence of ‘Afro-pessimism’ in the US, and the effects of the ontologization of Blackness, as discussed in the previous panel, are transported (sometimes too easily) as global frameworks for understanding Blackness, from South Africa to Lampedusa. However, the diasporic dynamics and legacies of the Black Atlantic become pulled elsewhere in different, and differently situated ways. In the Indian Ocean, for instance, they encounter non-linear histories of slavery, conscription, forced labor, and creolization, as Françoise Vergès has shown.Black Geographies open up fictions and illuminate tensions between global and world-historical scales of anti-Blackness while attending to historical and geographical particularities of Blackness both as subjection and resistance. Black Geographies, in this light, is not a call for localism, but rather a refusal of any spatial teleology in approaching the situated understandings anti-Blackness and of Black survival. Our fourth proposition, therefore, is: Black Geographies call attention to situated technologies, understandings and political forms that perpetuate anti-Blackness and conserve resistance.

5. The Capaciousness of Black Liberation

In this panel, we consider the forms of radical, foundation-questioning politics that take Blackness and racial capitalism as central to praxis (both action and reflection). Angela Davis argues that radical politics for our time has to be capacious, both drawing from struggles past and connecting the Black radical tradition to other struggles of the oppressed, including, in Davis’ imagination, of animals and environments. These are fundamentally geographical concerns, as is the spatial metaphor of a capacious form of politics. We use this to pose the proposition: Black Geographies makes possible a capacious form of liberationist praxis.