The work of repair: land, relation, and pedagogy

Tianna Bruno, Andrew Curley, Mabel Denzin Gergan, Sara Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Geographers center space and place in our understanding of power, arguing that relationships to place matter, that space is a result of power relations, and that how we represent the world makes the world. But to what extent do we turn these methods of analysis to understanding our relations to the land beneath our feet? We consider the experience and limits of repair across four sites, approaching land and place-making as political and cultural practices that orient us toward action and building relations. In this plenary lecture, furthering land-as-pedagogy, work on Black place-making and the afterlives of slavery we propose that geographers take up more seriously and more materially, the work of repair. We are bound up in institutions that stole land from Indigenous peoples, benefitted from enslaved peoples, and built a world of knowledge that shored up the logics and tools of empire; moreover, we must grapple with the afterlives of these practices in their extractive relations to people and land both near and far. As geographers, we can and should be pushing for different kinds of partnerships with the Native nations whose land we are on, toward reparations in the form of material redistribution and restructured power structures, and toward better relations with all workers at our institutions as well. We have an uneven responsibility to devote not only words but also resources and labor to understanding what justice and repair might look like in our fieldsites, discipline, and in our home institutions. We discuss examples of this in our work and at our institutions, propose guiding questions, and invite geographers to reflect on how to do the material work of repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-19
Number of pages15
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Black Geographies
  • Indigenous Geographies
  • environmental justice
  • extraction
  • repair
  • settler colonialism
  • university

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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