Street naming and the politics of belonging: Spatial injustices in the toponymic commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr

Derek H. Alderman, Joshua F. Inwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although the critical turn in place name study recognizes the central and contested place that toponyms hold in people's lives and identity struggles, little work has explicitly analyzed place naming rights in terms of social justice, citizenship, and belonging. We introduce readers to the naming of streets for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and use two brief case studies from the southeastern USA (Statesboro, Georgia and Greenville, North Carolina) to discuss the barriers that hinder the creation of a landscape that truly reflects the teachings of King. Naming opponents, sometimes with the (un)witting cooperation of black activists, impose spatial, scalar limits on the rights of African Americans to participate in the street naming process and to appropriate the identity of streets outside of their neighborhoods, even though challenging historically entrenched patterns of racial segregation and marginalization is exactly the purpose of many street naming campaigns. The case of King streets prompts us to think about place naming as a mechanism of spatial (in)justice, demonstrating the fundamental role that geography plays in constituting and structuring the processes of discrimination or equality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-233
Number of pages23
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

Fingerprint

politics
racial segregation
civil rights
place name
social justice
marginalization
African American
citizenship
segregation
teaching
equality
discrimination
campaign
justice
leader
geography
Teaching
rights
co-operation
American

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this

@article{362e812c6882447699c73870c9885521,
title = "Street naming and the politics of belonging: Spatial injustices in the toponymic commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr",
abstract = "Although the critical turn in place name study recognizes the central and contested place that toponyms hold in people's lives and identity struggles, little work has explicitly analyzed place naming rights in terms of social justice, citizenship, and belonging. We introduce readers to the naming of streets for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and use two brief case studies from the southeastern USA (Statesboro, Georgia and Greenville, North Carolina) to discuss the barriers that hinder the creation of a landscape that truly reflects the teachings of King. Naming opponents, sometimes with the (un)witting cooperation of black activists, impose spatial, scalar limits on the rights of African Americans to participate in the street naming process and to appropriate the identity of streets outside of their neighborhoods, even though challenging historically entrenched patterns of racial segregation and marginalization is exactly the purpose of many street naming campaigns. The case of King streets prompts us to think about place naming as a mechanism of spatial (in)justice, demonstrating the fundamental role that geography plays in constituting and structuring the processes of discrimination or equality.",
author = "Alderman, {Derek H.} and Inwood, {Joshua F.}",
year = "2013",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1080/14649365.2012.754488",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "14",
pages = "211--233",
journal = "Social and Cultural Geography",
issn = "1464-9365",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "2",

}

Street naming and the politics of belonging : Spatial injustices in the toponymic commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. / Alderman, Derek H.; Inwood, Joshua F.

In: Social and Cultural Geography, Vol. 14, No. 2, 01.03.2013, p. 211-233.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Street naming and the politics of belonging

T2 - Spatial injustices in the toponymic commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr

AU - Alderman, Derek H.

AU - Inwood, Joshua F.

PY - 2013/3/1

Y1 - 2013/3/1

N2 - Although the critical turn in place name study recognizes the central and contested place that toponyms hold in people's lives and identity struggles, little work has explicitly analyzed place naming rights in terms of social justice, citizenship, and belonging. We introduce readers to the naming of streets for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and use two brief case studies from the southeastern USA (Statesboro, Georgia and Greenville, North Carolina) to discuss the barriers that hinder the creation of a landscape that truly reflects the teachings of King. Naming opponents, sometimes with the (un)witting cooperation of black activists, impose spatial, scalar limits on the rights of African Americans to participate in the street naming process and to appropriate the identity of streets outside of their neighborhoods, even though challenging historically entrenched patterns of racial segregation and marginalization is exactly the purpose of many street naming campaigns. The case of King streets prompts us to think about place naming as a mechanism of spatial (in)justice, demonstrating the fundamental role that geography plays in constituting and structuring the processes of discrimination or equality.

AB - Although the critical turn in place name study recognizes the central and contested place that toponyms hold in people's lives and identity struggles, little work has explicitly analyzed place naming rights in terms of social justice, citizenship, and belonging. We introduce readers to the naming of streets for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and use two brief case studies from the southeastern USA (Statesboro, Georgia and Greenville, North Carolina) to discuss the barriers that hinder the creation of a landscape that truly reflects the teachings of King. Naming opponents, sometimes with the (un)witting cooperation of black activists, impose spatial, scalar limits on the rights of African Americans to participate in the street naming process and to appropriate the identity of streets outside of their neighborhoods, even though challenging historically entrenched patterns of racial segregation and marginalization is exactly the purpose of many street naming campaigns. The case of King streets prompts us to think about place naming as a mechanism of spatial (in)justice, demonstrating the fundamental role that geography plays in constituting and structuring the processes of discrimination or equality.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84874441900&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84874441900&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/14649365.2012.754488

DO - 10.1080/14649365.2012.754488

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84874441900

VL - 14

SP - 211

EP - 233

JO - Social and Cultural Geography

JF - Social and Cultural Geography

SN - 1464-9365

IS - 2

ER -