• Kim Gallon

    Assistant Professor Purdue University


From its inception, Africana/Black Studies have undertaken the question of space and African people’s ability to traverse and negotiate their right to occupy spaces in Western societies. Historically, Black bodies have been viewed as devaluing public space. Indeed, both geographic and social spatial differentiation has been predicated on racial difference in societies dominated by Western values.

In geopolitical terms, Africana/Black Studies scholars have studied everyday mobilities, which include the flow of people, networks, objects, and ideas backward and forward across the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, space in Africana/Black Studies is less static; mobility must be considered as central to inquiries into the relationship between African descended-communities in the Diaspora and on the African continent. Black peoples’ ability, then, to move across space is a cornerstone for understanding their complex social locations and conditions.

This course is dedicated to making participants conversant in spatial humanities and will focus on what it can specifically tell us about Blackness and space. To this end, it is intended to provide participants with the capacity to work with technical and domain experts on spatial humanities projects within Africana/Black Studies and other related fields.

The participants will examine and consider spatial theory, methods and technologies, which will answer two central research questions:

  • What interstices do spatial humanities fill in Africana/Black Studies?
  • What spatial theories best capture the relationship between Blackness and space in Africana Studies and how might they be visualized through spatial technologies?

The course will also show participants how three-dimensional mapping and graphical rendering of statistical and demographic data can produce innovative, analytical means for examining both Black history and culture as well as providing depth and perspective to scholars’ teaching.

This course has three main objectives:

  1. To teach participants how to think spatially and develop visual literacies through the category of Blackness and transnational lenses.
  2. To teach participants to understand and critique geospatial technologies
  3. To introduce participants to technological tools that can aid them in developing, evaluating and contributing to Black spatial humanities projects.

In sum, the course is an effort to prepare participants working in a variety of disciplines to develop spatial narratives and maps, which consider the intersections between Blackness, space and representation.