Situating diasporic knowledges at AAG 2016 in San Francisco

For the upcoming AAG meeting in San Francisco, Judith Carney and I have co-organized a series of paper sessions and a round table discussion panel on diasporic knowledges and their potentials to enhance historiographies and development. We have an exciting set of contributors and papers across two sessions followed by what should be a stimulating and inspiring discussion about the utility of knowledge created, adapted, and innovated in diaspora.

We hope to engage the audience members in our discussion. Please join us on the afternoon of Friday, 4/1/2016 in Paris South, Marker Hotel, Lobby Level. The Marker Hotel is just across O’Farrell Street from the Hilton.
Situating diasporic knowledges I runs from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM
Situating diasporic knowledges II runs from 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM
Situating diasporic knowledges: A roundtable discussion runs from 5:20 PM – 7:00 PM
The AAG preliminary program is available here.

OP Dispersal Africa2-01 - Copy.jpg
Dispersal of African oil palms in Africa and the South Atlantic with major regions of transatlantic slave embarkation, 1500–1900 (original in Environment and History).

From the program, a description of the sessions:
Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers
San Francisco, March 29-April 2, 2016
Situating diasporic knowledges
Organizers: Case Watkins (Louisiana State University) and Judith Carney (University of California, Los Angeles)
Geographers, anthropologists, and other scholars have long studied indigenous knowledges and practices as fonts for responsible and viable development initiatives (Sauer 1925; Rocheleau, Thomas-Slayter, and Wangari 1996; Sluyter 2002; Escobar 2008). Those studies often serve as alternatives or correctives to (post)colonial or modern development interventions fraught with social and ecological calamities (Sheppard et al. 2009). Mobilizing subaltern voices and promoting epistemological diversity, geographers are participating in a movement to decolonize the academy, and more broadly, the politics of knowledge production (Collard, Dempsey, and Sundberg 2015).Despite the increasing valorization of indigenous epistemologies, research analyzing and endorsing other forms of traditional knowledges and practices, particularly those from explicitly diasporic traditions, remains only nascent (Carney 2001; Carney and Rosomoff 2009; Sluyter 2012; Voeks and Rashford 2012; Carney and Rangan 2015). Generally unqualifiable as indigenous, traditional diasporic knowledges have received insufficient treatment as historical agents and as sources of viable development practices. The pluriverse of diverse and interactive epistemologies is, however, more-than-indigenous and benefits from diasporic as well as indigenous traditions and perspectives. While research advancing relational ontologies recognizes intertwined social, political, and ecological agencies, approaches acknowledging multiple epistemologies can raise awareness and expand possibilities for socioecological connections and change (Sundberg 2014). Exploring diasporic epistemologies diversifies and amplifies our historiographical and developmental potentials. Encouraging, enacting, and decolonizing those diverse ecologies and economies is essential for the abundant survival of Earth and its beings (Mansfield et al. 2015).

Building on many decades of research mobilizing indigenous epistemologies, we are organizing a series of paper sessions on the theme of diasporic knowledges, both historical and current. We seek papers that analyze knowledges or traditions forged in or emerging from diaspora. We consider the concept of diaspora rather broadly and welcome submissions grounded in any and all migratory traditions or events.

Carney, J. A. 2001. Black rice: The African origins of rice cultivation in the Americas. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Carney, J., and H. Rangan, eds. 2015. Special issue: Transoceanic exchanges. Environment and History 21 (1):1–157.
Carney, J. A., and R. N. Rosomoff. 2009. In the shadow of slavery: Africa’s botanical legacy in the Atlantic World. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Collard, R.-C., J. Dempsey, and J. Sundberg. 2015. A manifesto for abundant futures. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105 (2):322–330.
Escobar, A. 2008. Territories of difference: Place, movements, life, redes. Durham: Duke University Press.
Mansfield, B., C. Biermann, K. McSweeney, J. Law, C. Gallemore, L. Horner, and D. K. Munroe. 2015. Environmental politics after nature: Conflicting socioecological futures. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105 (2):284–293.
Rocheleau, D. E., B. P. Thomas-Slayter, and E. Wangari. 1996. Feminist political ecology: Global issues and local experiences. London; New York: Routledge.
Sauer, C. O. 1925. The morphology of landscape. University of California Publications in Geography 2 (2):19–53.
Sheppard, E., P. W. Porter, D. R. Faust, and R. Nagar. 2009. A world of difference: Encountering and contesting development. New York; London: Guilford Press.
Sluyter, A. 2002. Colonialism and landscape: Postcolonial theory and applications. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
_______. 2012. Black ranching frontiers: African cattle herders of the Atlantic World, 1500-1900. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Sundberg, J. 2014. Decolonizing posthumanist geographies. Cultural Geographies 21 (1):33–47.
Voeks, R., and J. Rashford eds. 2012. African ethnobotany in the Americas New York; London: Springer.

Author: Case Watkins

Case Watkins is a cultural and environmental geographer and Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at James Madison University. Dr. Watkins studies long-term relationships between societies and environments, especially the political ecologies and environmental histories of the African diaspora.

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