Racial Coastal Formation: Placing Race in the Making of Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise

December 23, 2017 Comments off

Hardy, R.D., R.A. Milligan and N. Heynen (2017) “Racial Coastal Formation: Placing Race in the Making of Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise.” Geoforum. 87: 62-72.

Abstract:

The United States’ deeply racialized history currently operates below the surface of contemporary apolitical narratives on vulnerability mitigation and adaptation to sea-level rise. As communities, regulatory agencies, and policy-makers plan for rising seas, it is important to recognize the landscapes of race and deep histories of racism that have shaped the socio-ecological formations of coastal regions. If this history goes unrecognized, what we label colorblind adaptation planning is likely to perpetuate what Rob Nixon calls the “slow violence” of environmental racism, characterized by policies that benefit some populations while abandoning others. By colorblind adaptation planning, we refer to vulnerability mitigation and adaptation planning projects that altogether overlook racial inequality—or worse dismiss its systemic causes and explain away racial inequality by attributing racial disparities to non-racial causes. We contend that responses to sea-level rise must be attuned to racial difference and structures of racial inequality. In this article, we combine the theory of racial formation with the geographical study of environmental justice and point to the ways racial formations are also environmental. We examine vulnerability to sea-level rise through the process of racial coastal formation on Sapelo Island, Georgia, specifically analyzing its deep history, the uneven racial development of land ownership and employment, and barriers to African American participation and inclusion in adaptation planning. Racial coastal formation’s potential makes way for radical transformation in climate change science not only in coastal areas, but other spaces as situated territorial racial formations.

Keywords: Race, Vulnerability, Sea-level rise, Political ecology, Gullah Geechee, Georgia

Urban Political Ecology III: The Gendered and Queer Century

May 1, 2017 Comments off

Here is my third and final report on urban political ecology (UPE) in Progress in Human Geography.  A shout out to Noel Castree for excellent editorial guidance on the lot of these.

Heynen, N. (2017; on-line first) “Urban Political Ecology III: The Gendered and Queer Century” Progress in Human Geography.

Abstract:

Given the ongoing importance of nature in the city, better grappling with the gendering and queering of urban political ecology offers important insights that collectively provides important political possibilities. The cross-currents of feminist political ecology, queer ecology, queer urbanism and more general contributions to feminist urban geography create critical opportunities to expand UPE’s horizons toward more egalitarian and praxis-centered prospects. These intellectual threads in conversation with the broader Marxist roots of UPE, and other second-generation variants, including what I have previously called abolition ecology, combine to at once show the ongoing promises of heterodox UPE and at the same time contribute more broadly beyond the realm of UPE.

Neil Smith’s Long Revolutionary Imperative

April 7, 2017 Comments off

Happy to announce that we published the special collection of papers about the work of Neil Smith as both an free e-book and a special issue of Antipode:

Heynen, N., A. Kent, K. McKittrick, V. Gidwani, W. Larner (Eds.), 2017. Revolutionary Imperative: Engaging the Work of Neil Smith. Wiley-Blackwell. [published simultaneously as a special issue of Antipode, 49 s1]

Papers in the special collection were written by a fantastic group of scholars, including Andrew Ross, Timothy Brennan, Noel Castree, Susan W.S. Millar, Don Mitchell, John Morrissey, Tom Slater, John Paul Jones III, Helga Leitner, Sallie A. Marston, Eric Sheppard, Setha Low, Patrick Bond and Greg Ruiters.

We, the editors, wrote this introductory essay, based on some of Neil’s archival letters that Don Mitchell allowed us temporary access to.  I’d urge folks to take a closer look at the cover art for the collection which is a portrait of Neil that Deb Cowen painted and allowed us to use.

Heynen, N. A. Kent, K. McKittrick, V. Gidwani, W. Larner (2017) “Neil Smith’s Long Revolutionary Imperative.” Antipode. 49(s1): 5-18.

Abstract: Whether writing about gentrification or nature, the production of space or the politics of scale, uneven development or public space, globalization or revolution, the geographer Neil Smith was nothing if not provocative. Neither Festschrift nor hagiography, this special issue of Antipode critically engages Smith’s work—not to unpick the rich tapestry, but to draw the threads out and spin them on in new directions. Consisting of newly commissioned essays by comrades from across the human sciences, it considers the entire range of Smith’s oeuvre. This paper introduces the essays by offering not only some thoughts about Smith’s intellectual contributions generally, but also new insight into the role he played in Antipode.

Toward an Abolition Ecology

March 15, 2017 Comments off

This is one of my earliest essays on what is much larger project on abolition ecology.  I was happy to have been asked to participate on the Editorial Review Board of the new Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics which quickly became a logical home for this essay which will be in the inaugural issue:

Heynen, N. (2017; on-line first) “Toward an Abolition Ecology” Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics.

“Abolitionist politics continue to evolve in response to the ways racial capitalism exploits, oppresses and commits violence through uneven racial development. As environmental relations have always been part of this, in this short essay, Nik Heynen starts to grapple with what an ‘abolition ecology’ would look like.”

Solidarity in Climate/Immigrant Justice Direct Action: Lessons from movements in the U.S. South

March 7, 2016 Comments off

Happy to have published this paper in IJURR with two wicked smart folks.  Given we all continue to do work within these communities hoping for more work like this down the road.

Black, S., R. Milligan and N. Heynen (2016) “Solidarity in Climate/Immigrant Justice Direct Action: Lessons from movements in the U.S. South”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 40(2), 284-298.

Abstract

In October of 2012, youth organizers from the immigrant justice and climate change resistance movements in the southeastern US metropolitan region of Atlanta, Georgia, coordinated a direct action tactic framed by a unified narrative justifying collaboration between immigrant and climate justice activists on equal terms. In a continuing collaborative relationship, these organizers embraced mutually strategic narratives rooted in local civil rights history, but rejected common ‘global climate justice’ narratives used to frame social and environmental collaborative organizing. We examine the departure from ‘global climate justice’ narratives, which was exemplified by coalition building in Georgia, to argue that scholarship articulating ‘global climate justice’ as a new context for integrating social and environmental movements must anticipate barriers to these solidarities, especially historical, regional and racialized dynamics of power among organizations engaged in these developing alliances. Based on an investigation of strategic alliances between anti-racist, immigrant justice organizers and climate change activists in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, we argue that climate justice narratives in both activism and scholarship would benefit from more attention to the particular political and cultural geographies in which diverse forms of climate justice organizing can take hold.

Call for Abstracts: Special Issue of the “Annals of the AAG” on Social Justice and the City

January 1, 2016 Comments off

Call for Abstracts

Annals of the American Association of Geographers

Special Issue, March 2018

The Annals of the American Association of Geographers is seeking contributions for a Special Issue on “Social Justice and the City.”

We are seeking papers from a broad spectrum of scholars on social justice struggles in urban contexts. While we hope to be able to publish conceptual research drawing on now 40 years of cutting edge research in Geography on “social justice and the city,” we also hope to solicit papers on urgent contemporary issues, which will inform and motivate a broad audience of consumers and producers of geographic knowledge, from policy makers to grassroots activists.

Themes for the special issue could include, but are not limited to, original research in such areas as:

  • Racial/Gendered/Queer Justice and the City;
  • Environmental Justice, Social Justice, and the City;
  • Social Justice and Planetary Urbanization;
  • Social Justice and the Post/anti-colonial City;
  • Law, Social Justice and the City;
  • Segregation and inequality;
  • Mobility and immobility;
  • Urban Austerity and Social Justice;
  • Labor, Economic Justice and the City;
  • Social Justice and the Youth/Children’s City;
  • Marxism(s) and the City;
  • Social Justice and the Secular/non-Secular City;
  • Measuring Social Justice and the City;
  • Neoliberal Urbanism and Social Justice;
  • The Right to (Social Justice in) the City;
  • Urban Movements for Social Justice.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted by email to Jennifer Cassidento ( jcassidento [at] aag [dot] org) by March 1, 2016. The Editor will consider all abstracts and then invite a selection to submit full papers for peer review by April 15. Papers will have a target maximum length of 5,000 words (including main text, abstract, references, tables, figure captions, etc.). First draft papers will be due (via Manuscript Central) by December 2016 and final papers will be due in October 2017 for publication in 2018.

For any queries about this Special Issue contact the Editor, Nik Heynen (nheynen [at] uga [dot] edu).  For queries about the abstract submission process contact the Annals Managing Editor, Jennifer Cassidento (jcassidento [at] aag [dot] org).

Categories: Editorial

If I am Troy Davis, I Failed Troy Davis: Abolishing the Death Penalty through an Antiracist People’s Geography

December 14, 2015 Comments off

My Troy Davis paper was officially published in ACME:

Heynen, N. (2015) “If I am Troy Davis, I Failed Troy Davis: Abolishing the Death Penalty through an Antiracist People’s Geography.” ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. 14(4): 1066-1082.

Abstract In the wake of Georgia’s execution of Troy Davis, the importance of antiracist geographic thought has become ever more pertinent for clarifying how democratic politics and a people’s geography can help to bring about the abolition of the death penalty in the U.S. This paper seeks to engage the painful historicalgeographical legacies of white supremacism and the ways it has enabled capital punishment with an eye to moving toward a less violent and less dehumanizing state. More specifically, I imagine my historical-geographical engagement to provide a foundation from which to discuss putting into motion more deliberately what W.E.B. DuBois referred to as “Abolition Democracy”. In realizing the potential of DuBois’ notion of abolition democracy though, I will suggest more geographical attention to the ways racialized geographies have not been as explicitly connected to the notion of a people’s geography. 

Categories: Publications

Urban political ecology II: The abolitionist century in Progress in Human Geography

November 26, 2015 Comments off

My second UPE review titled “Urban political ecology II: The abolitionist century” in now on Progress in Human Geography’s on-line first page.

Heynen, N. (2016) “Urban Political Ecology II: The Abolitionist Century” Progress Report for Progress in Human Geography. 40(6): 839-845.

Abstract
Attention to the urban and metropolitan growth of nature can no longer be denied. Nor can the intense scrutiny of racialized, postcolonial and indigenous perspectives on the press and pulse of uneven development
across the planet’s urban political ecology be deferred any longer. There is sufficient research ranging across antiracist and postcolonial perspectives to constitute a need to discuss what is referred to here as ‘abolition ecology’. Abolition ecology represents an approach to studying urban natures more informed by antiracist, postcolonial and indigenous theory. The goal of abolition ecology is to elucidate and extrapolate the interconnected white supremacist and racialized processes that lead to uneven develop within urban environments.

Keywords: abolition ecology, antiracism, cities, environmental justice, political ecology, postcolonial, urban geography, urban political ecology (UPE)

We’ve been studied to death, we ain’t gotten anything”: (Re)claiming knowledge production through writing collectives

November 20, 2015 Comments off

Knowing Climate Change, Embodying Climate Praxis: Experiential Knowledge in Southern Appalachia

March 4, 2015 Comments off

253-262We’re all excited that several years of fieldwork through the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP) is starting to yield some publications.  Here is another new paper that is coming out in a special issue of the Annals of the Association of the American Geographers on Imagining Socio-Ecological Transformation.

Rice, J.L., B.J. Burke, N. Heynen (2015) “Knowing Climate Change, Embodying Climate Praxis: Experiential Knowledge in Southern Appalachia.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 105(2): 253-262.

Abstract: Whether used to support or impede action, scientific knowledge is now, more than ever, the primary framework for political discourse on climate change. As a consequence, science has become a hegemonic way of knowing climate change by mainstream climate politics, which not only limits the actors and actions deemed legitimate in climate politics but also silences vulnerable communities and reinforces historical patterns of cultural and political marginalization. To combat this “post-political” condition, we seek to democratize climate knowledge and imagine the possibilities of climate praxis through an engagement with Gramscian political ecology and feminist science studies. This framework emphasizes how antihierarchical and experiential forms of knowledge can work to destabilize technocratic modes of governing. We illustrate the potential of our approach through ethnographic research with people in southern Appalachia whose knowledge of climate change is based in the perceptible effects of weather, landscape change due to exurbanization, and the potential impacts of new migrants they call “climate refugees.” Valuing this knowledge builds more diverse communities of action, resists the extraction of climate change from its complex society–nature entanglements, and reveals the intimate connections between climate justice and distinct cultural lifeways. We argue that only by opening up these new forms of climate praxis, which allow people to take action using the knowledge they already have, can more just socioecological transformations be brought into being.

KeyWords: climate governance, democratization, politics of knowledge, praxis.