Black Ecologies, subaquatic life, and the Jim Crow enclosure of the tidewater

J. T. Roane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This paper is an effort to recover histories of Black critiques of the twinned forces of displacement and extractionism in relation to the Jim Crow enclosure of the Tidewater region represented by the consolidation of commercial fisheries after 1880. Braiding Black cultural history, labor history, and environmental history, under the formulation of “Black Ecologies,” I show the ways rural Black communities' relationships with the water and the subaquatic species like fish, crabs, oysters, and clams, in practice and in expressive culture, evolved through the period of the industrialization, deindustrialization, and recent reindustrialization of the Tidewater's waterways after Reconstruction. Using county level records, local Black expressive culture, governmental studies, historical newspaper articles, and recorded oral histories, I chart the transformation of Black rural relationships with the area's waterscape–, a conceptualization combining the geological features and processes of the water-land ecotone as well as the overlapping spaces of labor and leisure that created competing demands and a dialectic shaping rural life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-238
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Black commons
  • Ecology
  • Fisheries
  • Jim crow
  • Subaquatic life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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