PhD Dissertation Defense: Shakara Tyler

September 3, 2019 1:00PM - 3:00PM

Natural Resources Building, Room 130, 480 Wilson Road, East Lansing, MI 48824

Contact: Shakara Tyler

Pedagogies of Black Agrarianism: A Cultural Process of Recovery


Black agrarianism is a pedagogical thought, praxis, and social movement. Black agrarian pedagogies are the processes by which we teach and learn with one another through the exchange of knowledges that range from basic survival necessities on how to feed, shelter, and cloth ourselves to cultural stories that affirm our identities and value as dignified human beings. The abundant literature citing black agrarianism as a form of social, economic and political liberation skims the surface of educational processes in black agrarian spaces. In response, this inquiry explores the historical, contemporary and self-reflective pedagogies of black agrarianism.

The historical pedagogies of black agrarianism are interrogated through a two-part historiography: a historiographical essay and an oral history theatrical representation. The historiographical essay illuminates the mothering of black agrarian pedagogies that creatively crafted black agrarian educational environments through the late 19th and 20th centuries in institutions such as Tuskegee University and the Black Panther Party. In the tradition of African storytelling, the oral history theatrical representation performs the life history of Wendell Paris, a black agrarian organizer and educator, in dialogue with historical black agrarians such as Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and Fannie Lou Hamer to portray the importance of culture as the first and most important teacher where everyday acts of shelling peas, organizing for black voting rights and learning how to survive were some of the primordial lessons that captured the Black Freedom Movement of the mid-to-late 20th century.

Relatedly, the ethnographic case study of D-Town Farm of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) explores the contemporary contours of black agrarian pedagogies. Through participant observation, semi-structured interviews with 12 farm volunteers and 7 D-Town farmers and interns and content analysis via internal documents and social media postings, I interpret D-Town Farm pedagogy as a spiritually-driven praxis that exists in a culturally-representative community village striving toward self-reliance. By bringing everything full circle, the farm facilitates a culture of belonging (hooks, 2009) through African-centered culture as a pedagogical agent. Lastly, the self-reflective pedagogies of Black agrarianism are contextualized via an autoethnography where I reflect on my understandings of how black agrarian pedagogies has impacted me as a researcher.

Committee Members

Dr. Kyle Whyte, Chairperson

Dr. Laurie Thorp

Dr. Kim Chung

Dr. Wynne Wright


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Tags: black agrarianism, department of community sustainability, detroit, pedagogy, shakara tyler

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Shakara Tyler

Shakara Tyler PhD

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