In this talk, J.T. Roane — building off of his short experimental film Plot and the experience of working with the organization Just Harvest and the Rappahannock Nation to plant a mutual aid garden in Tappahannock — reflects on the healing act of working the land together under the structural and discursive conditions of shared histories of violence. Calling for us to center the intimacy of place when confronting existential threats of planetary scope, he offers a reading of writer and activist June Jordan’s injunction to “mourn the loss of every possible, joyous life” — to attend to the specificity of the living and dying.
J.T. Roane is assistant professor of Africana studies and geography and Andrew W. Mellon chair in global racial justice at the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University. He received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, and he is a 2008 graduate of the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia. His book Dark Agoras: Insurgent Black Social Life and the Politics of Place was published in 2023 by New York University Press. His short experimental film Plot received support from Princeton’s Crossroads Fellowship. He also currently serves as a member of Just Harvest—Tidewater, an Indigenous- and Black-led organization building toward food sovereignty and justice in Virginia’s historical plantation region through political and practical education. He is a 2023–24 visiting scholar in the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.
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Presented by the Environmental Humanities at Brown initiative at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities.