Towards a Black British Geography?

9 October 2020
6 October 2021

This intervention forum arises out of a public event called “Urban roots of creative Black culture: gender, music, and the body,” which took place at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham, UK, in 2019, and was co‐sponsored by this journal, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (TIBG). After an introductory piece, the forum brings together four short papers by contributors to the event, each exploring Black creative culture, gender, music, and embodiment in relation to the city, archives, dance, and creative practice (respectively). Bringing together six African‐Caribbean academics, the forum is an intervention that presents aspects of an emergent Black British Geography and, as such, challenges Geography as a discipline to be sufficiently open to accommodate it.


*This collection was updated in 2021 to include the Themed intervention "Incontestable: Imagining possibilities through intimate Black Geographies"

Table of Contents

Introduction: Towards a Black British Geography?

This intervention forum arises out of a public event called “Urban roots of creative Black culture: gender, music, and the body,” which took place at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham, UK, in 2019, and was co-sponsored by this journal, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (TIBG). After an introductory piece, the forum brings together four short papers by contributors to the event, each exploring Black creative culture, gender, music, and embodiment in relation to the city, archives, dance, and creative practice (respectively). Bringing together six African-Caribbean academics, the forum is an intervention that presents aspects of an emergent Black British Geography and, as such, challenges Geography as a discipline to be sufficiently open to accommodate it.

Incontestable: Imagining possibilities through intimate Black Geographies

Incontestable: Imagining possibilities through intimate Black geographies

This editorial takes the form of a dialogue between the editors of this Themed Intervention on Black intimate geographies. It frames the voices of the Black geographers from the US and the UK assembled here as speaking to both the incontournability of anti-blackness as a political reality and to Black ways of knowing, imagining and dreaming our presents and our futures against and beyond resistance to anti-blackness. The editorial celebrates the diasporic collaboration on which this Intervention is grounded and points to the possibilities of Black life and knowledge production.

Collage: Intimate Black geographies

As part of the tribute for this Themed Intervention, this collage reflects on the loss of loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and on the impact of on-going environmental crises. We also reflect on ancestors, practices, and places that have fortified us during this time. In this collaborative visual archive, we document what was happening in the near past as we crafted our contributions for this collection. At the same time, this collage underscores the Black intimate geographies we have lived and the intimacy we practised in the course of its making.

Open Access

Tribute 2

This tribute was written as I was reflecting on losing my mother while BLM and COVID-19 unfolded in the summer of 2020. The paper forms part of the themed intervention titled “Incontestable: Imagining Possibilities through Intimate Black Geographies,” edited by Naya Jones and Lioba Hirsch.

Black digital outer spaces: Constellations of relation and care on Twitter

In this short contribution, I witness the underrepresentation of Black PhD students and scholars in the UK academy, and I reflect on my use of Twitter to build a constellation of connections to Black PhD researchers, academics, and activists to think with and learn with. I write this in the form of a tweet thread, a method of scholarly writing that I learned from Black activists, students, and academics on Twitter, and I use this space to mention meaningful learnings from individuals in my own constellation of connections.

Open Access

Annotating Black joy on the White City Estate

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Black joy is a distinctive part of the Black experience. Amid the wakes of the tragic losses of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movements, in tandem with the rise of the global COVID-19 pandemic, I photograph Black millennial experiences and the site of the White City Estate in Shepherd's Bush, West London as a visual artist, writer and geographer.

Black ground truths and police abolition

This essay offers the concept of Black ground truths as a critical geographic method for scholarship and organising. Black ground truths encompass Black experiential practices of understanding the present world's limitations and building toward new, more liberated geographic possibilities. Centring the movement for police abolition, this essay urges us to look to existing Black liberatory place-making praxes to better understand how to transfigure sites of policing and other forms of racial violence.

On being moved: Black joy and mobilities in (extra)ordinary times

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This piece reflects on the twofold iteration of being moved both emotionally and geographically while Black in inner-city London. Based on the description of a brief autoethnographic moment taken during the first government-mandated COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, the contribution explores the intimate and embodied meaning of restrictions on Black movement and their impact on the experience of Black joy.

Cariad [Love]

I wrote this poem in the midst of experiencing loss and grief, while spending time with family in Scotland, before returning to where I live in South Wales. Truth be told, I did not write it with the intention of contributing to scholarly work on Black geographies. Instead, the poem was penned in the wee hours of a restless summer night/morning and was part of how I was feeling and writing through grief at the time.

Prologue: Black dream geographies

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This piece considers what the discourse surrounding Taylor's highly publicised killing during a police raid underscores about Black epistemologies of sleep, death, and dying. By using the phrase black dream geographies, I situate this piece in conversation with scholarship on black interiority. At the same time, I extend this conversation by explicitly considering the meanings of dream or sleep in Black/African American epistemologies.

The parable of Black places

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Frequently defined out of modernity, Black places have been left out of scholarship and public discourse on the future, as defined largely by white-centred neoliberal notions of progress. This essay observes Black place creation and durability in the midst of forces of capitalist displacement and climate change to consider how Black place practices of relationship-building, interdependence, and solidarity can be viable models for the future of human societies on Earth.