Black Matters Are Spatial Matters: Black Geographies for the Twenty‐first Century

Hawthorne, Camilla
Geography Compass

Katherine McKittrick famously wrote in Demonic Grounds that “black lives are necessarily geographic, but also struggle with discourses that erase and despatialize their sense of place” (McKittrick, 2006, p. xiii). From analyses of diaspora to the plantation, from studies of urban segregation to anticolonial circuits of resistance, Black thought has long been concerned with questions of space, place, and power. Yet these interventions, which span centuries and continents, have not always been recognized as “properly” geographical and have thus been systematically excluded from the formal canon of disciplinary geography. Within the last five years, however, Black Geographies as a field of inquiry has gained increasing institutional recognition—thanks to the tireless labor of Black scholars to carve out spaces for their work within the discipline. This article reflects on the state of the field of Black Geographies, with an emphasis on the radically interdisciplinary interventions this body of scholarship has made into the mainstream of disciplinary geography. I review some of the most prominent thematic areas within Black Geographies, including space-making and the Black geographic imagination; racial capitalism; cities, policing, and carceral geographies; and racism and plantation futures. I conclude with a consideration of avenues for future research, including the need for more studies that provincialize North America and connect with Latinx and Native/Indigenous geographies.