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Black Geographies and the Politics of Placeby Katherine Mckittrick
Synopses & Reviews
The history of black people in the Americas and the Caribbean 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, fourteen 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.
Katherine McKittrick authored Demonic Grounds: Black Women and Cartographies of Struggle.
Clyde Woods authored Development Arrested: Race, Power, and the Blues in the Mississippi Delta.
Book News Annotation:
McKittrick (Queen's U., Canada) and Woods (U. of California at Santa Barbara, US) present a diverse set of 11 essays that explore black geographies or, in other words, space as "it is articulated through the physical, imaginary, and political concerns of black diasporic subjects." Topics include critiques of neoliberal geographies that are found embedded in the blues; how to theorize the Underground Railroad as a complex, non-linear, diasporic geography; the travels of fugitive slave Henry Box Brown as a form of resistance that is geopolitically diasporic; and geographies of performance practices such as slave-ship dances, blues geographies, urban ghettos, and the kwaito music genre in post-apartheid South Africa. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Mapping a new world.
About the Author
Assistant Professor in women's studies at Queen's University is the author of Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle (U. Minnesota Press, 2006). A frequent contributor to journals and books McKitrick has worked as a volunteer with the Toronto Women's Bookstore Assistant Professor of African American studies at The University of Maryland
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