I recently published an article in Geography Compass entitled "Urban agriculture, racial capitalism, and resistance in the settler colonial city". Articles in Geography Compass are essentially review articles that also make an argument or point to a new theoretical framework for future research. Here's the abstract:
Recent scholarship on urban agriculture (UA) – the production of food in cities – argues that UA can both undergird and resist capitalist accumulation, albeit often at different spatio-temporal scales. Scholarship that explicitly examines how UA, capitalist development, and racial difference work through one another, however, is less extensive. In this review, I propose that the lens of racial capitalism can elucidate UA’s contradictory motivations and outcomes. As an analytical framework, racial capitalism considers how distinct forms of colonization, settler colonialism, and white supremacy function relationally as part of a unified system of capitalist accumulation built on the exploitation of racialized human and spatial difference. By focusing on, UA’s contributions to racial Othering, the racialization of space, and dispossession, on the one hand, and on struggles of resistance and self-determination, on the other, this review attempts to sheds new light on the dialectical, “both/and” nature of UA, while also addressing recent calls to consider how settler colonial logics persist in the contemporary North American city.
Writing this was a really fulfilling process, as it allowed me to delve into new literature for me that I only begin to scratch the surface of when writing my Annals paper -- historical work on gardens, Indigenous studies scholarship, and critical race theory. More than just a lit review, this paper really lays out my research agenda as I move forward with the Portland Black Gardens Oral History Project and other historical work.
Great new article: "The Elusive Inclusive: Black Food Geographies and Racialized Food Spaces" by Margaret Marietta Ramírez
I just read a new article in Antipode by a geography PhD student at the U of Washington, Margaret Marietta Ramirez. In it she pushes the boundaries of food justice scholarship by drawing on black geographies and critical race theory (notably as elaborated by McKittrick and Woods) to "de-center the white subject as the presumed actor within critical food studies". Here's the abstract:
North American food scholars, activists and policymakers often consider how to make a community food project more inclusive to “vulnerable populations” to increase participation in local food efforts. Drawing from qualitative research conducted with two community food organizations in Seattle, Washington, I argue that inclusive efforts are not addressing the power asymmetries present in organizations and within communities. Engaging with black geographies literature, I reveal how a black food justice organization grapples with violent histories of slavery and dispossession rooted in a black farming imaginary, and works to re-envision this imaginary to one of power and transformation. The spatial imaginaries and spaces of each food organization acknowledge racial histories differentially, informing their activism. Black geographies possess knowledge and spatial politics that can revitalize community food movements, and I consider how white food activists might reframe their work so that their efforts are not fueling the displacement of residents of color.
She makes an important claim that really speaks to something I've been mulling over, which is the relationship between food justice and food sovereignty. She writes: "Some food scholars have signaled that perhaps a shift in terminology to that of “food sovereignty” would be more appropriate for food movements that address injustices across scale. While the use of food sovereignty connects North American struggles to indigenous struggles for autonomy across the globe, signaling our interconnection in the colonial present, I worry that the loss of this genealogy would displace the critique of institutional racism central to food justice activism and use a broad brushstroke to encompass place-based movements rooted in black geographies. In addition, the loss of the “justice” genealogy that traces food justice activism to its social justice roots in black social movements would be lost, submerging generations of black struggles for equity that are often tied to the land."
Great reading and I'll definitely be assigning it in class!
Nathan McClintock is a geographer and professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University.