quisumbing king, katrina. Forthcoming. “Recentering U.S. Empire: A Structural Perspective on the Color Line,” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.
In the past 20 years, scholars of top sociology and race and ethnicity articles increasingly have mentioned the term “color line.” Prominent among them are sociologists concerned with how waves of Latin American and Asian immigration, increasing rates of intermarriage, and a growing multiracial population will affect the U.S. racial order. While much of this work cites Du Bois, scholars stray from his definition of the color line in two ways. First, they characterize the color line as unidimensional and Black–white rather than as many divisions between non-white people and whites. Second, scholars portray the color line as the outcome of micro-level factors rather than the product of international geopolitical arrangements. I contend that in contrast to scholarship that portrays immigrants, and intermarried and multiracial people as shifting the color line, international and imperial policies related to immigration, intermarriage, and multiracial identification are longstanding sites of the construction of the U.S. racial order. Scholars should conceptualize the United States as an empire state in order to analyze the international political history of multiple color lines. In doing so, they can distinguish between differences in kind and degree of racial divisions
* Winner of the James E. Blackwell Graduate Paper Award, ASA Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities
quisumbing king, katrina, Spencer D. Wood, Jess Gilbert, and Marilyn Sinkewicz. 2018. “Black Agrarianism: The Significance of African American Land Ownership in the Rural South,” Rural Sociology 83(3): 677-699.
Agrarianism is important in the American mythos. Land represents both a set of values and a store of wealth. In this paper, we ask how land matters in the lives of rural, Southern, Black farmland owners. Drawing on thirty-four interviews, we argue that, since the end of slavery, land has continued to operate as a site of racialized exclusion. Local white elites limit Black farmers’ access to land ownership through discriminatory lending practices. At the same time, Black farmland owners articulate an ethos in which land is a source of freedom, pride, and belonging. This we term Black agrarianism. They cultivate resistance to the legacies of slavery and sharecropping and contemporary practices of social closure. These Black farmland owners, then, view land as protection from white domination. Thus, we demonstrate how landownership is a site for the recreation of racial hierarchy in the contemporary period whilst also offering the potential for resistance and emancipation.
quisumbing king, katrina. 2016. “Striving for Sacred: Negotiating the Tensions of Sustainable Agriculture,” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 45(4): 396–418.
This essay is an account of how young people, deeply committed to sustainability, struggle to live according to their beliefs. In light of a growing population, limited arable land, and possible food shortages, an organization known as Students for Sustainable Agriculture (SSA) responds to the threat of industrial agriculture. These students strive to do what is good for the earth, good for their bodies, and good for their community. They do so by revering food and creating a set of practices that distinguish them as believers in sustainable agriculture. Still, practical difficulties of everyday life make it difficult for them to live by the rules they create. As students living in a wealthy country, contending with environmental degradation, SSA’ers attempt to negotiate their moral commitments with what they can effectually realize. To align their practices with their articulated morals, SSA’ers make alternative consumption choices. Like others who struggle to live according to a set of principles that run counter to what is easy and convenient, these students strive to live true to their beliefs. They try to avoid losses in moral strength, and they repent for situations in which their actions contradict the rules that govern their moral world.