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The Black Ecologies Lab

Advancing historical and geographic inquiry and pedagogy alongside storytelling organic to regional and diasporic Black expressive cultures to further transformative research, curricular development, and global racial justice.

About Black Ecologies

The Black Ecologies Signature Lab at the ISGRJ draws together threads in order to generate scholarship, artistry, and other resources that aid in infusing public and scholarly discourse as well as our broader cultural imaginaries with the insights generated through the analytical insights, methods, and theories related to Black Ecologies and its closely allied fields, including Black Geographies. The lab provides a suite of digital projects, speaker series and workshops, community engagement events, teaching and undergraduate program development, and publications to foment Rutgers as a major center for Black ecological studies for faculty, students, and community. 

Meet the Co-Investigators of The Black Ecologies Lab

Black Ecologies joins the forces of its two conveners, Teona Williams and J.T. Roane and bolsters their already-in-motion existing collaborative forces into a more powerful coalition.

J.T. Roane is Mellon Assistant Professor of Global Racial Justice, Africana Studies and Geography, at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Dr. Roane is a historian broadly concerned with matters of geography, sexuality, and religion in relation to Black communities. He is the lead of the Black Ecologies Lab and former co-senior editor of Black Perspectives, the digital platform of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS).

Teona Williams is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography. Her current work explores the role of disaster and hunger, in shaping Black feminist ecologies from 1930-1990s. Specifically, she follows a cadre of rural Black feminists who articulated visions of food sovereignty, overhauled antiblack disaster relief, and vigorously fought for universal basic income, radical land reform, and food and clean water access as a human right. 

The Black Ecologies Board of Advisors

Dana Cypress

Dr. Dana Cypress

Dr. Dana Cypress is an Assistant Professor of English at Colgate University. She writes and teaches courses in African American literature, American literature and environmental literatures. Her first book project engages Black representations of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.   

Dr. Tajah Ebram

Dr. Tajah Ebram

Dr. Tajah Ebram is a scholar of literary and cultural studies who teaches and works at the intersections of Black feminisms, radicalisms, carceral studies, and environmentalisms. She is the Black Studies Librarian at Rutgers University New Brunswick and the Rutgers lead for the Black Bibliography Project. In 2020, she completed her PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania where she focused on Philly Black freedom movements alongside oral history, digital storytelling, and visual and print culture.  


Ebony Noelle Golden

Ebony Noelle Golden is a theatrical ceremonialist, culture strategist, entrepreneur, and public scholar. In 2009, Ebony founded Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, a culture consultancy that devises systems, strategies, and social justice solutions nationally. In 2020, she founded Jupiter Performance Studio, a space to study and practice Black diasporic performance traditions. Her practice is rooted in community-design, ritual performance, and leadership development through a ecowomanist and Black feminist praxis.

Dr. Justin Hosbey

Dr. Justin Hosbey

Dr. Justin Hosbey is a humanistic social scientist and Black studies scholar. His ethnographic work explores Black social and cultural life in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Mississippi Delta regions. His current ethnographic project utilizes research to understand how the post-Katrina privatization of neighborhood schools in low-income and working-class Black communities has fractured space and placemaking in Black New Orleans. 

Christopher Lawrence headshot

Christopher Lawrence

Christopher Lawrence's research interests revolve around the idea of evolvability and adaptability. If we can understand what makes something more evolvable, we can understand how species will react to climate change and catastrophe, and how biodiversity is created. Pursuing this question, may shed light on what earths first life forms looked like, to how to heal generational traumas.

Jayson Maurice Porter

Dr. Jayson Porter

Jayson Maurice Porter is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park and a Voss Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES). He is an environmental historian of Mexico and the Americas, with focuses on agrochemicals, oilseeds, food systems, and Black and Indigenous ecologies. He most recently co-developed the Environmental Justice Freedom School with the Chicago Teachers Union in June 2023

Meet the Black Ecologies Lab Research Assistant

K Anderson

K Anderson is a writer-artist, porn archivist, and doctoral student in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Rutgers-New Brunswick. Broadly, she writes,

studies, and creates music and visual art about black sexual economies and geographies, black transfeminist theory, and black transsexualities. Deeply fascinated with experimental method-making and archival practices, K is interested in the troubled mechanisms of historicizing and remembering black sexual geographies and ecologies.

The Black Ecologies Field School: Tappahannock, Virginia (Summer 2023)

The August 19, 2023 gathering in Tappahannock, Virginia, hosted by Just Harvest—a Black and Indigenous led food justice organization in the Tidewater of Virginia--brought together Indigenous and Black participants, including the principal of a local middle school; three educators from two rural counties; scholars and graduate students across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities; farmers and food justice activists; artists, dancers, and filmmakers; and youth and families for engagement with local sites of Indigenous and Black historical significance related to place and ecology. Additionally, a three-hour public-facing food justice symposium and art gallery attracted 80 people. At this time we also digitally launched the first iterations of the Black Ecologies Zine.  

Watch the video of the gathering below. 

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Black Ecologies Gathering, Tappahannock, VA

The Black Ecologies Zine

The Black Ecologies collective is pleased to launch the Blackecologies Zine, an open resource containing sixty-six pages of essays, interviews, short fiction, poetry, experimental field notes, and original art that examine the shared vulnerabilities and possibilities between Black communities facing overlapping social crises and climate emergency in Virginia, South Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad, Louisiana, and beyond. This is currently in digital form, and we intend to also print and deposit it at libraries in the various communities included in the project through the contributors to extend its utility beyond the enduring digital divide, especially in more rural areas. 

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Other ISGRJ Teaching & Research Labs: On Race, Social Justice & the Human

ISGRJ Teaching and Research Labs are versatile, humanistic, interdisciplinary incubators producing collaborative, multi-genre, cutting-edge research on race. Serving as multi-modal spaces, scholars, students and faculty investigators pair arts, humanities, and cultural studies research methods with social and behavioral science and stem approaches. Each lab aims to contribute innovative research and pedagogy that can lead to the disruption and transformation of racial formations of the human. 

The Race and Gender Equity (RAGE Lab)

The Race and Gender Equity (RAGE Lab), founded in 2023, is a multi-modal research incubator committed to producing Black feminist research on the social thriving of Black women and girls and making that research accessible to broad public audiences. RAGE Lab's Founding Director and Principal Investigator is Dr. Brittney Cooper, Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University.

RAGE Plait Form 50-50 FULL (FINAL)

The Cybercene Lab

This new humanities-centered lab proposes the Cybercene as a new gathering principal to study the current ecocultural era in our planetary history. As lands burn, oceans boil, species go extinct almost unnoticed on a daily basis and political/economic/cultural conflicts (local, regional and global) multiply, we aim to explore interdisciplinary yet realistic pathways towards healing and restored habitability. The Cybercene Lab's Founding Director and Principal Investigator is Dr. Vetri Nathan, Mellon Associate Professor of Global Racial Justice and Italian at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. 

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