Clyde Woods

Clyde Woods, Associate Professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), died this past summer.

Woods received his PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA where he studied with Ed Soja. Since his graduate student days, he had been an active member of the geographic community. He research was centered at the nexus of regional planning, African American studies, and social justice. As a longtime member of the AAG, Woods not only sought to focus attention on the plight of poor communities of color, but he also actively encouraged and mentored black geographers in order to diversify the discipline.

Woods was also Director of the Center for Black Studies Research at UCSB. His work demonstrated his overarching belief that the purpose of public social science is to explore and strengthen the links between knowledge embedded in communities and the knowledge disseminated by universities. “Clyde Woods was an admired colleague, professor, and student mentor, and he will be deeply missed by all the members of our UCSB family,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “Dr. Woods was engaged in two long-term research projects within our Department of Black Studies, one focusing on rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and the other on creating a network of community members and scholars studying race and policy issues in the Los Angeles area. He was also actively involved in Haiti relief efforts; the recent earthquake in Haiti touched him deeply, and he was passionate about helping the people of Haiti.” He joined the UCSB faculty in 2005 following appointments at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland.

Woods was the author of two important books, Development Arrested: Race, Power and the Blues in the Mississippi Delta (Verso, 1998), an interdisciplinary work that reframed the history of the Mississippi Delta by unearthing and interpreting the blues epistemology of its poor black residents, and Black Geographies and the Politics of Place, co-edited with Katherine McKittrick (South End Press, 2007). In addition, he edited a special issue of the American Quarterly focused on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, “In the Wake of Hurricane Katrina: New Paradigms and Social Visions” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010).

At the time of his death Woods had also completed a manuscript entitled, “Development Drowned and Reborn,” a study of post- Katrina New Orleans that his colleague and friend, Laura Pulido, will see through the publication process. Finally, Woods was also working on a book on the history of Black Los Angeles, which Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Laura Pulido hope to complete as a collaborative process. If people are interested in working on this project they should contact Ruth or Laura.

Clyde Woods (Necrology). 2012. AAG Newsletter 47(3): 36.