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A Place We Call Home

Gender, Race, and Justice in Syracuse

by K. Animashaun Ducre

Publication Year: 2012

Faith holds up a photo of the boarded-up, vacant house: “It’s the first thing I see. And I just call it ‘the Homeless House’ cause it’s the house that nobody fixes up.” Faith is one of fourteen women living in Syracuse’s Southside, a predominantly African-American and low-income area, who took photographs of their environment and displayed their images to facilitate dialogues about how they viewed their community. A Place We Call Home chronicles this photography project and bears witness not only to the environmental injustice experienced by these women but also to the ways in which they maintain dignity and restore order in a community where they have traditionally had little control. To understand the present plight of these women, one must under­stand the historical and political context in which certain urban neighbor­hoods were formed: Black migration, urban renewal, white flight, capital expansion, and then bust. Ducre demonstrates how such political and economic forces created a landscape of abandoned housing within the Southside community. She shines a spotlight on the impact of this blight upon the female residents who survive in this crucible of neglect. A Place We Call Home is the first case study of the intersection of Black feminism and environmental justice, and it is also the first book-length presentation using Photovoice methodology, an innovative research strategy that uti­lizes photographic images taken by individuals with little money, power, or status to enhance community needs assessments and to empower par­ticipants. Through a cogent combination of words and images, this book illuminates how these women manage their daily survival in degraded environments, the tools that they deploy to do so, and how they act as agents of change to transform their communities.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-10


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-14

Funding for this project was made possible through a grant from the Ford Foundation and a subvention grant from Dean George Langford of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Department of African American Studies, Sandra...


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pp. xiii-18

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1. An Introduction

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pp. 1-10

I worked for Greenpeace from 1993 to 1997. Its mission statement continues to reflect my own life’s work of bearing witness to social injustice. One of the benefits of working for Greenpeace was that you acquire a number of T-shirts. Greenpeace protests are carefully organized spectacles,...

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2. Welcome to the South Side

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pp. 11-22

At a recent reception held in a faculty member’s home, tucked into the quietly prosperous university neighborhood, I found myself standing among a group of other professors lamenting the difficult academic life while eating catered Indian food. I am just so busy. It’s hard for me to find time to write. Grading is so time-consuming....

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3. Disruption and Dislocation of Black Spaces in Syracuse

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pp. 23-47

In my capacity as a Greenpeace campaigner, I was invited to become part of a mobilization to halt the licensing of a new nuclear-materials enrichment facility in northern Louisiana. The citizen’s group was called CANT, Citizens Against Nuclear Trash, and they were based in Homer, Louisiana...

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4. Exploring Black Mothers’ Spatiality through Community Mapping

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pp. 48-81

A 1998 National Geographic study revealed that people in the United States have a poor grasp of global geography, particularly young Americans (RoperASW 2002). I suspect that most have extensive mental maps of their local communities. My own community map is quite convoluted,...

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5. Women’s Photovoice from Belfast to the South Side

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pp. 82-126

The quotes above appear in separate Photovoice projects in two different countries. The first is from Jacqueline, a mother living near Monument Road, a community in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The second is from Faith, a young mom living in Syracuse. There is an unlikely connection...

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6. Conclusion. Evaluating Spatial Strategies in Feminist Theorizing and Research

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pp. 127-136

My goal for this book was to build a bridge between Black feminist theory and environmental justice scholarship by expounding on the lived experiences of Black women in an impoverished urban neighborhood. To this end, my task was not only to point out the structural obstacles that...


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pp. 139-150


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pp. 151-160

Back Cover

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pp. 179-180

E-ISBN-13: 9780815652021
E-ISBN-10: 081565202X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815633068
Print-ISBN-10: 0815633068

Page Count: 150
Illustrations: 34 illustrations
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 844058477
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Place We Call Home

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African American neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.
  • African American mothers -- New York (State) -- Syracuse -- Social conditions.
  • Community life -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.
  • Environmental justice -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.
  • Feminist theory.
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