Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa

Seminar in Critical Development Studies hosted by Cornell Global Development and the Graduate Field of Development Studies
Speaker: Jovan Scott Lewis

In this talk, I think through the history of Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, more famously known as Black Wall Street. I assess how the 1921 race massacre’s destruction of Greenwood was reproduced by insidiously violent processes that include urban renewal. Throughout successive waves of dispossession, Greenwood became geographically and narratively glossed as North Tulsa. From advocating for food access to formal reparations claims, I detail how North Tulsans’ responses to these circumstances are organized and driven by community formation, understood as an ethic of restoration.

About the speaker:

Jovan Scott Lewis Associate Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Governor appointee to the California State Reparations Task Force. He is the author of Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica (University of Minnesota Press) and Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa (Duke University Press). Jovan studies racial capitalism, underdevelopment, and reparations as a means of understanding the historical constitution of Black communities.

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