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Terroir of Violence in the Capital of the Southern Black Belt: On Blackness and the American Dream in Albany, Ga.

  • Author(s): Pratt, Jr., James Bernard
  • Advisor(s): Ward, Geoff K;
  • Lynch, Mona
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license
Abstract

The purpose was of this project was to interrogate the concept of violence in relation to desire and race historically and contemporarily in Albany, Ga. It relied on a phenomenological lens with an ontological analysis across four key historical and critical scenes. Theoretically, the project relied on Institutional Anomie Theory (IAT) and opportunity structures to capture how culture and structure in institutions reproduce and are oriented towards violence. This is paired with the more critical and radical work including, Du Bois’ double consciousness, Fanon’s psychoanalysis, Soifer’s framing of state failure, and Wynter’s exploration of embodiment that together help capture the “bottom” of desire beyond what is conceptualized as an American Dream used in IAT. Given this, I contribute the concept of terroir of violence to frame and work through localized originary points of violence illustrating conditions that may inform a (re)taxonomization and reckoning with violence. The archive, biographical narratives, oral histories, and in-depth interviews collectively extend the theoretical conversation serve as data. First, I consider the significance of the life and narrative of Nelson Tift, the city’s founder, paired with a reading of Du Bois’ Souls of Black Folks where he relies on an ethnography of Albany helping to illustrate the aftereffects of Tift. Next, I examine the oral histories and work on the Albany Movement, considered by some a failure, as a culminating point of the confrontation and conflict of the established web upon a developing terroir. I conclude by bringing the previous sections forward as context and use interviews of institutional leaders, particularly in education and the juridical to now contend with some of the contemporary reckoning and response to an established terroir thereby illuminating the web of race, desire, and violence. Discussed are implications of this work including a need for reckoning with legacies of violence and develop stronger theories thereof.

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