Love: A Blues Epistemology from the Undercommons

SEP 18, 2019 | 6:30 PM TO 8:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


9100: Skylight Room


September 18, 2019: 6:30 PM-8:00 PM




Center for the Study of Women and Society


How can we humans, planners, designers, educators of all kinds, truly make a more just society?  What does it take to build and sustain movements in the millions? Through research, practice and an exploration of the concept “abolition”, I lift up and amplify an answer which appears all around us: it takes the spatial practice of abolition and simultaneously understanding these labors as the love we ultimately seek and must make.  These spatial practices are found in our “undercommons” - those spaces inhabited and produced by we, black people, indigenous peoples, queers and poor people, and it is where and how we say “…that we want to tear down the structures that…limit our ability to find each other, to see beyond…we want to feel a new sense of wanting and being and becoming” (Moten and Harney, 2013. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study).   Our work is in better understanding that abolition-based “love” is a spatial, erotic and embodied practice of collective freedom pursuits, and that they most clearly appear through mutual trauma-healing in our haunted places (our bodies, the land, our relations).  These are the revolution.

Co-sponsored with The Graduate Center PhD Programs in Critical Personality Social Psychology and Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Public Science Project, IRADAC, the Africana Studies Certificate Program, PublicsLab, CLAGS, and the GC Library.

Mia Charlene White is a parent, daughter, native New Yorker (Queens), dreamer, and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies in the Environmental Studies Program at The New School for Public Engagement, with a co-teaching appointment at the Milano School for International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy. She identifies as a mixed-Black woman of African American and Korean descent.  Mia is an ongoing faculty-affiliate of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, a 2017-18 Fellow with the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography and Social Thought (GIDEST @ The New School), and a 2018-19 Faculty Fellow with the Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Political Science from the State University of NY at Stonybrook, a Master of International Affairs (Environmental Policy) from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and a Ph.D in Urban Studies and Planning (Housing and Environment) from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).  Mia's work is interdisciplinary and she situates herself among radical geographers (race geography) and anthropologists, planning/urban theorists (fugitive planning), radical sociologists/historians and those others seeking to link social science concepts of space and race, to the humanities via art and protest.  Since joining the faculty of The New School in 2016, she has developed and teaches the following all-new courses: Environmental History, Race and Natural Resource Management, Black Geographies, Race, Space and Dispossession, and The Revolution will be Cooperative:  Community Land Trusts, Coops and The Commons.  She also mentors thesis and dissertation writers using qualitative methods in their research.  She is currently working on her first book manuscript titled Love: A Blues Epistemology from the Undercommons —an ethnographic and photographic exploration of socio-spatial resistance and everyday revolution in Brown and Black spaces, towards what she hopes to suggest as a "Theory of Love."