Dr. LaToya Eaves (GSS Ph.D. 2012), receives two prestigious AAG awards: The 2019 AAG Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors and The AAG Enhancing Diversity Award.
This year the Ron F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors is given to Dr. LaToya Eaves in honor of the transformative impact she has had on the AAG through her commitment to Black Geographies.
Several years ago, Eaves began convening a series of sessions entitled, “Black Matters are Spatial Matters.” These quickly became some of the most exciting events at AAG conferences, attracting standing-room only crowds who were hungry for a sustained intellectual engagement with Black Studies, and where Black scholars could congregate amidst the whiteness of the AAG. As the sessions became increasingly popular, Eaves took the lead in proposing a Black Geographies Specialty Group (BGSG). According to one nominator, “previous to BGSG, there was no one place where Black Geographers could wholly identify.” The establishment of the BGSG has had a profound impact on the AAG and the discipline of geography and must be recognized as a potential turning point for the discipline. Although there have been other attempts to promote Black geographies, anti-racist scholarship and Black scholars, the BGSG is distinct because it is a liberatory project that not only foregrounds the Black experience, but also attempts to hold geography accountable for its exclusions/inclusions of Black geographies and Black geographers. Moreover, BGSG is an organic formation, developed by and for Black geographers as well as all others interested in studying Black geographies and supporting Black geographers.
Besides providing an institutional home for Black Geographies, Eaves and the BGSG have also compiled a Black Geographies Reading list; organized a BGSG plenary; are developing travel and paper awards for students; and are exploring collaborations with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Because of the import of Black Geographies, then AAG President Derek Alderman made Black Geographies one of the central themes of the 2018 AAG Meeting in New Orleans. Eaves served as the point person for the theme and made it a central part of the conference. The synergy and impact of the BGSG can also be seen in the development of the Latinx Geography Specialty Group, which was established in 2018. Eaves played an instrumental role in assisting the founders of the LGSG by sharing her experience and materials.
It is hardly a surprise that Dr. Eaves assumed a leadership role in creating the BGSG. She has worked tirelessly for over half a decade to carve out space within the AAG (and geography more broadly) for Black geographies, Black scholarship, and Black scholars. She has done this through institutional advocacy, mentorship, community engagement, and intellectual production. For example, she sat on the AAG Task Force on Diversifying the Curriculum in Geography. In terms of scholarship, she co-edited a special issue of The Southeastern Geographer focused on Black Geographies. As one of her nominators wrote, “Today, one cannot discuss the subfield of Black Geographies without also discussing Eaves…Black Geographies, as we know it today, is a product of Eaves’s professional commitment to Geography.”
Dr. LaToya Eaves makes the AAG an infinitely better organization and we proudly confer the 2019 AAG Ron Abler Distinguished Service Honors upon her.
AAG Enhancing Diversity Award
2019 LaToya Eaves has worked to bring emancipatory geography to the forefront through institutional advocacy, mentorship, community engagement,and intellectual production. Her scholarship engages and informs racial, gendered, and sexual dimensions of identity and politics. She is widely applauded for her commitment to establish the AAG Black Geographies Specialty Group, and for her support of other under-represented groups of geographers. Her dedication to the discipline and the AAG has inspired many graduate students and faculty to engage in Black Geographies thought, and is also influencing some departments to seek out scholars whose research involves Black Geographies.