Black Urban Revolution: A Cultural History Of Move And The Radical Everyday In West Philadelphia

Tajah Ebram, University of Pennsylvania


“Black Urban Revolution” traces a cultural history of the MOVE Organization, a mostly Black naturalist collective established in 1970s West Philadelphia. This project examine how MOVE members confronted conditions of racialized and gendered state violence and displacement through critical spatial and ecological practices based in their environmental sensibilities, alternative kinship and domestic practices and their anti-carceral politics. “Black Urban Revolution” engages writings and cultural products created by and about MOVE members, while drawing on archival material and oral history. The project is grounded in Black feminist thought where it intersects with cultural geography and prisons studies in order to unearth how MOVE located freedom in an anti-Black urban space through protest but also through everyday acts, including cultural production, communal self-reliance and care giving. “Black Urban Revolution” is an interdisciplinary work that explores history and cultural analysis as necessarily interwoven modes for examining Black radical knowledge and practice. This dissertation approaches largely state produced archives and places them in critical conversation with MOVE member’s lived experience and cultural works, in order to illuminate a dynamic examination of the organization that includes but also de-centers the state’s spectacular violence against MOVE members.