Berkeley Black Geographies (BBG) is committed to the material study of Black life. It is guided by the principal assertion that Blackness cannot be solely reduced to cultural abstraction or mere corporeal phenomena. BBG pursues geography as a productive analytic capable of exploring, examining, and determining the lived experiences of Blackness as well as its conceptual limits and theoretical purchase. We approach Blackness as an analytical modality that gives insight and shape to the concepts and processes of spatial formation through the ways that race, space, place, and scale are mutually constituted and operationally linked. The result is the demand that social, cultural, ecological, economic, and political processes are inherently determined by geographical relations and can never be fully understood without racial (understood as Black) analysis.
We privilege the global worldmaking and shaping powers and frameworks of Black people. We are also inspired by and contribute to the deep commitment and work of Black geographers who for decades organized and resisted against the lack of concern for or interest in the Black experience within geographical thought and practice. That inattention overlooked the efforts of a generation of Black geographers who worked to intellectually and institutionally build within the discipline and who did seminal work outside of it.
Berkeley Black Geographies is not a lab and we do not experiment with Blackness and certainly not with Black people's lives. Programmatically, Berkeley Black Geographies pursues the full decolonizing of geography. Not satisfied with the nominal or exceptional recognition of 'doing' anti-racism, BBG is undertaking the complete epistemological, methodological, and curricular restructuring of the spatial disciplines. We advance a contemporary understanding of geography and other disciplinary analyses of sociospatial relations through the centering of Blackness that works across the areas of programming, pedagogy, and publishing. Through proactive recruitment of graduate students and faculty, BBG represents the central intellectual heart of the Geography Department at UC Berkeley, which has become an institutional leader in Black Geographies.
The Black Geographic: Praxis, Resistance, Futurity is a forthcoming anthology under contract with Duke University Press co-edited by Jovan Scott Lewis and Camilla Hawthorne. The text emerged out of the first Berkeley Black Geographies symposium in 2017, which was the first material product of Berkeley Black Geographies.
Black Geosonicologies explores the racialization of sound and how it is mediated, contextualized, and experienced through place-based orientation and the everyday rhythms of Black life across the Diaspora. This collective examines what it means to be a racialized “listening subject” and how Blackness as sound is managed through auditory governance and sociosonic processes that structure our worlds and offer new modes for understanding the confluence of Blackness, sound, and geography.
The Black Geographies library guide was created by graduate students april l. graham-jackson and Robert Moeller as an informational hub of scholarly resources, archives, maps, tips, and tools, and curated links that center Black Geographies and its growing imprint on academic thought and public discourse.
Berkeley Black Geographies has partnered with Berkeley United Geographers (BUGS) to close the distance between undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley. Undergraduates and graduate students discuss physical and human geography through monthly curated talks, panels, and events that center the relationships between Blackness and geography. The goal for Bridging is to foster cross-generational connections within the department and across geography more broadly.
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Website Designer: april l. graham-jackson