Black Geographies: Insurgent Knowledge, Spatial Poetics, and the Politics of Blackness (CFP)

Black Geographies: Insurgent Knowledge, Spatial Poetics, and the Politics of Blackness

A symposium hosted by the Geography Department at the University of California, Berkeley

Organizers: Dr. Jovan Lewis, Dr. Sharad Chari, Camilla Hawthorne, Kaily Heitz

October 11-13, 2017
UC Berkeley

CFP Deadline: June 16, 2017

Black liberation movements around the world, from the streets of Oakland and Ferguson to the shores of southern Europe, have focused international conversations among activists, academics, and artists on the importance of blackness to the geographical imagination. Importantly, this dialogue has elucidated the possibilities of blackness not only as a tool for understanding whiteness, non-being, and social/physical death, but also as a radical framework for envisioning liberation, social justice, and reconstruction. We invite our colleagues to Black Geographies to discuss the possibilities of interdisciplinary work oriented on black geographic thought. This symposium offers geography in general, and black geographies specifically, as capacious fields of inquiry that invite historical, political economic, sociological, and artistic perspectives–as well as a range of “established” and alternative methodologies.

The double valence of our use of “black geographies” refers both to the ways that geography can be used to understand the complex, overlapping spatialities of black life and the stretching of geographical knowledge that takes place when scholars consciously center questions of race and blackness. Katherine McKittrick’s important interventions, for instance, employ the concept of “poetics” to describe those landscapes and places that have been narratively and counter-conceptually created with blackness as their source.

The symposium will be organized around the following set of interrelated questions:

•   What are the processes by which racial-spatial inequalities are reproduced and contested? How do we create a black geographic praxis that is equally attentive to the political economic and the poetic; to the ecological and the quotidian?

•   How can an empirically rigorous and critical approach to spatiality contribute to conversations about fungibility, the legacies of enslavement, and diasporic coordinates stretching beyond the Black Atlantic?

•   How can centering Blackness and racism transform the way that we think about spatiality and power, and what can this move bring to cross-disciplinary understanding of the current political climate? And, how does centering blackness across disciplines using a geographic framework point to new possibilities for liberation and change?


This symposium will be an intimate, focused discussion on the above topics, through which we will collectively articulate a vision for the field of black geographies. As such, applicants should select one prompt and provide a written abstract of 250-300 words that outlines their response (please note: if accepted, you may be asked to sit on a panel that addresses any one of the questions listed above, not just the prompt you have chosen). Abstracts will be anonymously peer reviewed and are due by June 16th. We will respond to you with our decision in mid-July.


Please submit abstracts to and include your name, position, affiliation, and contact information.

Published by blackgeographies

Website for the Black Geographies Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers.

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