“Sit a Spell: Reflections on the Black Imagination and the Geographical Imagination”
"Can Geography, as a set of concepts and tools, be of relevance in solving the problems of the Black American community?" Dr. Bobby Wilson and Dr. Herman Jenkins posed this critical and timely question in 1972. More than five decades later, we "sit a spell" in conversation around Wilson and Herman's persistently urgent question. We do so by thinking through the development of Black Geographies as an academic field and an institution. Our dialogue covers four key themes. First, we reflect on the formation of the Black Geographies Specialty Group (BGSG) in 2017. Our reflection illuminates scholars whose research, teaching, activism, and mentorship knowingly and unknowingly laid the groundwork for BGSG. It likewise reflects on the importance of Black Studies to Geography. Second, we reflect on the efforts to establish BGSG within the American Association of Geographers over the past decade. We recognize that the process of institution building was logistical. And we elevate the ways Black Geographies engages both a politics of belonging for Black geographers and a means for affirming scholarship on Black geographies. Related, we move on to reflect on our scholarship and the ways in which Black geographies, as a field and institution, have allowed for capaciousness. Our scholarship has become increasingly more collaborative, emphasizing the importance of the rural, spirituality/religion, and the U.S. South. Finally, we imagine the necessarily multifarious, multiscalar futures of Black geographies
Priscilla McCutcheon (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky. She is also affiliated with the African American and Africana Studies program, where she is the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Much of her work has been with Black faith-based food programs and sustainable farms in the U.S. South. Priscilla is increasingly interested in Black spiritual and religious geographies and how the "spirit" is used to conceptualize space and place. Her work has been published in journals including ACME, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Environment and Planning D, and Southern Cultures. She is co-editor of the recently published Beyond the Black Kitchen Table: Black Women and Global Food Systems with Dr. Latrica Best and Dr. Theresa Rajack-Talley. In 2023, Priscilla was named an AAG Fellow. She is a native of Denmark, South Carolina, received her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and her B.A. from Spelman College.
LaToya E. Eaves (she/her) is a proud North Carolinian, a background that has profoundly influenced her scholarship. She has been instrumental in increasing the visibility of Black Geographies in addition to her research, which centers on questions of race, Blackness, gender, sexuality, and place — especially regarding the South. Her work appears in numerous journals, including Southern Cultures, Gender, Place, and Culture, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, and Dialogues in Human Geography, and she is co-editor with Kate Boyer and Jennifer Fluri on the recent Activist Feminist Geographies. Recipient of numerous awards, including the 2019 Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors for her transformative impact on the American Association of Geographers through her commitment to Black Geographies, she serves as P.I. on a half-million-dollar NSF grant for a collaborative project on museums and Black Geographies. She is an Associate Professor of Geography and Sustainability at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Eaves was named to the 2023 Class of AAG Fellows.