Fri Feb 26 Subsistence livelihoods, natural resource management & the racial state in the Gullah/Geechee Nation

ICGC Brown Bag Series
Friday February 26th, 2016   Noon-1pm
537 Heller Hall

Fishing While Black: Subsistence livelihoods, natural resource management and the racial state in the Gullah/Geechee Nation
Presented by: Dr. Kate Derickson, Department of Geography, Environment, and Society

Abstract: In his piece “The Game Warden,” Gullah woodcarving artist Reverend Johnnie Simmons depicts a Gullah/Geechee fisherman caught in the glare of the game warden’s flashlight. He speaks Gullah-inflected English, explaining that he was just about to go home and doesn’t have any more fish than allowed. This encounter is illustrative of the everyday experiences of Gullah/Geechee fishers at the intersection of the neoliberal racial state and natural resource management. The Gullah/Geechee people are descended of freed and escaped slaves from Africa’s Rice Coast, brought to the Sea Islands of the Carolinas and Georgia through Atlantic slave trade due in large part to their knowledge of rice cultivation. Based on ongoing collaborative research with Gullah/Geechees that has included ethnographic observation and interviews, I consider the way in which discourses about natural resource management become crucial sites for racialized dispossession and the extension of the carceral state in the context of state retrenchment. Drawing in part on the forthcoming work of Coleman and Stuess, I consider the methodological and analytical challenges of ethnographies of state power, the exercise of which functionally depends on invisibility and marginalization, as well as the work of feminist epistemologist Naomi Scheman’s notion of historically marginalized populations being rendered “grotesquely hyper-visible” (see also McKittrick) to not only describe and theorize the intersection of subsistence livelihoods, natural resource management and the racial state in Gullah/Geechee Nation, but consider the possibility of emancipatory knowledge production in relation to these dynamics.

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