“McCammack’s book provides a literal landscaping of black modernity. In doing so, it shines new light on Black Chicago, forcing us to look again at things we thought we knew so well. "Landscapes of Hope" brings together environmental justice and African American history in new ways, reminding us that
race must be central both to our debates about environmental injustice and to our general understanding of the environment itself.”—Davarian L. Baldwin, author of "Chicago’s New Negroes"
Brian McCammack discusses "Landscapes of Hope
Nature and the Great Migration in Chicago." He will be joined in conversation by Adam Green. A Q/A and signing will follow the discussion.
Presented in partnership with the UChicago Program on the Global Environment and Chicago Studies
At the Co-op
About the book: In the first interdisciplinary history to frame the African American Great Migration as an environmental experience, "Landscapes of Hope" travels to Chicago’s parks and beaches as well as youth camps, vacation resorts, and the farms and forests of the rural Midwest. Despite persistent racial discrimination and violence in many of these places, African Americans retreated there to relax and sometimes work, reconnecting with southern identities and lifestyles they had left behind.
Between 1915 and 1940, hundreds of thousands of African Americans moved away from the South to begin new lives in the urban North. In Chicago alone, the black population quintupled to more than 275,000 in a quarter century. Most historians map the integration of southern and northern black culture through labor, religion, politics, and popular culture. Brian McCammack follows a different path, recapturing black Chicagoans as they forged material and imaginative connections to nature. In the relatively prosperous migration years but also in the depths of the Great Depression, Chicago’s black community—women and men, young and old, working class and upper class—sought out, fought for, built, and enjoyed natural and landscaped environments. No matter how crowded or degraded, green spaces provided a refuge for black Chicagoans and an opportunity to realize the promise of nature and of the Great Migration itself.
Situated at the intersection of race and place in American history, Landscapes of Hope traces the contours of a black environmental consciousness that runs throughout the African American experience.
About the author: Brian McCammack is the author of "Landscapes of Hope: Nature and the Great Migration in Chicago," published in 2017 by Harvard University Press. He has published articles and review essays in American Quarterly, Journal of Urban History, and Journal of Social History. An Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Lake Forest College, he previously taught in Environmental Studies at Williams College, History at Tufts University, and History & Literature at Harvard University. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in the History of American Civilization in 2012 and his Master’s from the American Studies department at Purdue University in 2006, where he also received his bachelor’s of science degree in Electrical Engineering in 2004.
About the interlocutor: Adam Green is Associate Professor of American History at the University of Chicago. He received his BA from The University of Chicago (1985) and his Ph.D. from Yale University (1998). He teaches and research in a variety of fields, including twentieth century U.S. history, African American history, urban history, cultural studies and social movements. He has written and co-edited two books: "Selling the Race: Culture and Community in Black Chicago, 1940-1955" (Univ. of Chicago Press: 2006); "Time Longer than Rope: Studies in African American Activism, 1850-1950, co- edited with Charles Payne" (New York University Press: 2003). His current book research deals with the history of the black struggle for happiness, and he is developing several articles dealing with segregation, police torture, and post-1970 culture and society in Black Chicago.