Climate Change, Decolonization, & Global Blackness | Danielle Purifoy: "Plantations Are Not Forests"

Climate Change, Decolonization, & Global Blackness | Danielle Purifoy: "Plantations Are Not Forests"

Learn more at

About the Talk: This presentation examines the contemporary timber industry as a reproduction of plantation power via remote control which occurs through absentee landowners, Black family land grabs, new markets for energy, and legal regimes designed to "devalue" common property in favor of individual ownership and profit-seeking productivity. Black rural histories can teach us about alternative modes of forest relations and interdependence that counter the economic interests driven by capitalism.

About the Speaker: Danielle Purifoy is an assistant professor of Geography at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D in Environmental Policy and African American Studies from Duke University. Her research focuses on the racial politics and law of development in Black towns and communities. Danielle serves on the board of Inside Climate News, is the former Board Chair of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, and is also the former Race and Place editor of Scalawag, a media organization devoted to Southern storytelling, journalism, and the arts. Her work is published in Society and Space, Environmental Sociology, Southeastern Geographer, and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, among other publications.

On the Entanglement Project at Duke-FHI: Climate catastrophe cannot be thought outside of the context of empire and the forms of racialization central to global capitalism, including the degradation of peoples, ecosystems and lands facilitated by states in the global North. Threats to the very existence of the planet and all its inhabitants result from this genocidal global development project, yet the effects are being borne more grotesquely by those who live in the global South. Environmental justice efforts that overlook the longue durée trajectory of the historical operations of capitalism, and the raciality that affixes a disproportionate burden onto ex-colonized areas of the planet and its inhabitants, fall short of pointing us in a direction of systemic and just change.

The Climate Change, Decolonization and Global Blackness Lab seeks to explore the linkages among three pivotal and simultaneously occurring catastrophes—criminality, displacement, pandemics—toward developing a set of principles regarding decolonization as an ethical approach to climate change.