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Worcester State University Dept Of Earth, Environment and Physics
Beyond Berkeley: Critical Cultural Landscape Studies and A People’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area has long been celebrated and decried as a hearth of liberalism and radicalism in the United States. Place names like “San Francisco,” “Berkeley” and, increasingly, “Oakland” are synonyms for revolutionary spaces where labor, the environment, education, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and countless other social relations are remade by popular movements. While the region’s radical reputation is deserved, this dominant narrative obscures more complex histories of domination, exploitation and resistance that have produced the Bay Area as a remarkably uneven and unequal place. Drawing on the recently published A People’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area, this talk argues that by examining the vernacular landscape across the region — the spaces and places beyond or behind the lionized locations of popular tourism and history — we find the stories, moments and people who do not easily fit into the progressive narrative of San Francisco, but are equally essential for understanding how the region developed. As part of the People’s Guide popular geography project that examines how power manifests in specific spaces, this work pushes forward the idea that if geography is to be done in the service of justice, we must continue to develop new methods and modes of explanation that unearth and make visible the entrenched injustices everywhere.