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Demonic Grounds

Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle

2006
Author:

Katherine McKittrick

Demonic Grounds

Explores how black women’s geographies are meaningful sites of political opposition

Demonic Grounds moves between past and present, archives and fiction, theory and everyday, to focus on places negotiated by black women during and after the transatlantic slave trade. Specifically, Katherine McKittrick addresses the geographic implications of slave auction blocks, Harriet Jacobs's attic, black Canada and New France, as well as the conceptual spaces of feminism and Sylvia Wynter's philosophies.

Katherine McKittrick rejoins and initiates the completion of the uncompleted challenges originally made from the perspective of the global anticolonial, anti-imperial struggles, as well as of the anti-apartheid and other movements of the sixties.

Sylvia Wynter, Stanford University

In a long overdue contribution to geography and social theory, Katherine McKittrick offers a new and powerful interpretation of black women’s geographic thought. In Canada, the Caribbean, and the United States, black women inhabit diasporic locations marked by the legacy of violence and slavery. Analyzing diverse literatures and material geographies, McKittrick reveals how human geographies are a result of racialized connections, and how spaces that are fraught with limitation are underacknowledged but meaningful sites of political opposition.

Demonic Grounds moves between past and present, archives and fiction, theory and everyday, to focus on places negotiated by black women during and after the transatlantic slave trade. Specifically, the author addresses the geographic implications of slave auction blocks, Harriet Jacobs’s attic, black Canada and New France, as well as the conceptual spaces of feminism and Sylvia Wynter’s philosophies.

Central to McKittrick’s argument are the ways in which black women are not passive recipients of their surroundings and how a sense of place relates to the struggle against domination. Ultimately, McKittrick argues, these complex black geographies are alterable and may provide the opportunity for social and cultural change.

Demonic Grounds

Katherine McKittrick is assistant professor of women’s studies at Queen’s University.

Demonic Grounds

Katherine McKittrick rejoins and initiates the completion of the uncompleted challenges originally made from the perspective of the global anticolonial, anti-imperial struggles, as well as of the anti-apartheid and other movements of the sixties.

Sylvia Wynter, Stanford University

Demonic Grounds is the first work to focus solely on the multiple dimensions of black geographic thought. It profoundly deepens our understanding of the intellectual grids created by blacks in the United States and Canada.

Clyde Woods, author of Development Arrested: The Blues and Plantation Power in the Mississippi Delta

McKittrick’s analysis of black women’s geographies struggles is a complex, densely written and invaluable contribution to critical theory in black studies. Demonic Grounds is an important text for researchers interested in understanding the connections between black women and geography and, specifically, the impact on Canadian geographies of the presence of black peoples in the early Canadian city.

Topia

Theoretically rich and engaging. All in all, Demonic Grounds is a hugely important intervention that I hope will open doors within human geography to a range of black geographies/geographers.

Annals of the Association of American Geographers

A complex analysis of the relationship between geographic space and power. As a result of this critical investigation, geography is recognized and affirmed as a valid tool of feminist epistemology.

College of New Jersey Newsletter

Lyrical and above all, haunting. I want to celebrate McKittrick’s ability to haunt through her intoxicating narrative gifts. Hers is the strongest, most confident voice to ring out in critical geography in my most recent memory. The book is an exercise in graceful mobility.

Gender, Place and Culture

Provides rich, intergenerational scholarly dialogues, as well as historically and theoretically informed readings of black cultural practices in the African Diaspora. McKittrick transforms the black Atlantic into far more than a metaphor, showing how the identities and material practices arising from capitalism, colonialism, and enforced captivity transformed the new and old worlds that spawned them.

American Literature

Demonic Grounds is definitely worthwhile reading for graduate students, faculty, and other scholars who appreciate a serious, thought-provoking, and interdisciplinary analysis of the intersection of racism and sexism.

The Geographical Review

Demonic Grounds

Contents

Introduction: Geographic Stories

1. I Lost an Arm on My Last Trip Home: Black Geographies
2. The Last Place They Thought Of: Black Women’s Geographies
3. The Authenticity of This Story Has Not Been Documented: Auction Blocks
4. Nothing’s Shocking: Black Canada
5. Demonic Grounds: Sylvia Wynter

Conclusion: Stay Human

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography

Index