Tag Archives: University of Georgia

Abolishing the frontier: (De)colonizing ‘public’ education

In this paper, Nikki Luke and I are working through how to reconcile the history of the university we work at while thinking about how folks working at institutions of higher education can push toward decolonizing public education.

Luke, N. and N. Heynen (2019) “Abolishing the Frontier: (De)Colonizing “Public” Education” Social and Cultural Geography.

ABSTRACT In this paper, we situate the public university as a frontier where structures of settler colonialism, racialization, and citizen formation are both created and contested. We use the historical- geographical position of the University of Georgia, the first public land grant university chartered in the United States, to consider the broader implications of the settler-native-slave triad in the history of public higher education. We use these historical insights to expand upon W. E. B. Du Bois’ notion of abolition democracy and Indigenous discussions of decolonization. We animate the possibilities of abolition democracy informing public higher education through three interventions that question the ways in which people within public institutions of higher education can destabilize and work to democratize the systems that enclose land, labor, and education as private property.


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

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.


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.