Race, Space, and Nature: An Introduction and Critique

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Abstract

In this essay we put forth nested arguments about the way that racialization remains a powerful force in contemporary society, contending that intersections with space and nature offer important lessons about the (de)construction of race. We argue that the pernicious character traits of racial constructs develop through spatial practices and intersect with ideas about “nature” and belonging. We trace these concepts through recent conversations in geography and environmental studies, and we call for a persistent, critical, and prominent engagement with racialization in the spatial social sciences. Finally, we introduce the papers that constitute this symposium, which engages these questions from a range of perspectives and across a variety of landscapes. We hope to spur the conversation about “race and geography”, broadly conceived, beyond studies conceptualized around race alone. We are hopeful that this work, and the larger body of work it contributes to, travels beyond academic conversations to engage broader social justice debates about the “nature” of racial inequality—to ultimately participate in its dismantlement.

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