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Black Food Geographies

Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C.

By Ashanté M. Reese

Foreword by Dara Cooper

184 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 3 maps, 3 tables

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5150-7
    Published: April 2019
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5149-1
    Published: April 2019
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5151-4
    Published: March 2019

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In this book, Ashanté M. Reese makes clear the structural forces that determine food access in urban areas, highlighting Black residents’ navigation of and resistance to unequal food distribution systems. Linking these local food issues to the national problem of systemic racism, Reese examines the history of the majority-Black Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, Reese not only documents racism and residential segregation in the nation’s capital but also tracks the ways transnational food corporations have shaped food availability. By connecting community members’ stories to the larger issues of racism and gentrification, Reese shows there are hundreds of Deanwoods across the country.

Reese’s geographies of self-reliance offer an alternative to models that depict Black residents as lacking agency, demonstrating how an ethnographically grounded study can locate and amplify nuances in how Black life unfolds within the context of unequal food access.

About the Author

Ashanté M. Reese is assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College.
For more information about Ashanté M. Reese, visit the Author Page.


“A formidable and productive contribution to the existing literature. Students, scholars, and practitioners from across the fields of anthropology, geography, food systems, and food studies will derive enormous benefit and gain a crucial toolkit for imagining anti-racist futures from reading this book.”--Medical Anthropology Quarterly

“In contrast to the barren emptiness implied by the term food desert, Reese also captures the resilience, creativity and dynamism that exist in the historically Black community of Deanwood in Washington, D.C. . . . [And] offers something more complicated and more radical in her telling. Not quick fixes, but imaginative possibilities for a new kind of urban food system – one with liberatory potential.”--City

“As a scholarly work crafted through anthropological methods, Black Food Geographies does not simply outline, critique, and analyze food geographies in D.C. Instead it includes the voices of the residents that create and make productive use of Deanwood’s green spaces – introducing the Black lives that make Black spaces matter. . . . [And] brings to the surface histories that are often elided in critical food studies and geography.”--Society and Space

Black Food Geographies offers a deep examination of the history and present of Deanwood in Washington, D.C., drawing important connections between the food system of this particular urban locale and what is happening in other important sites of food justice work around the country. A compelling read.”—Teresa Mares, University of Vermont

“Ashanté Reese’s work is richly empirical, historically grounded, and speaks to the contemporary national debate about the industrialized food system, access to healthy foods, and connections between food justice, racial uplift, and social change. A much-needed and important work.”—Kimberly Nettles-Barcelón, University of California, Davis