Symone Antoineé Johnson
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNotre Dame, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10006
Approve DateAugust 26, 2020
Project TitleJohnson, Symone (Notre Dame, U. of) "Making the Marvelous: On Care and Black Belonging in Brooklyn, New York"
SYMONE JOHNSON, then a graduate student at University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, was awarded funding in August 2020 to aid research on “Making the Marvelous: Experiments in Care and Black Belonging in Brooklyn, New York,” supervised by Dr. Alex Chavez. Making the Marvelous is an exploration of how Black and otherwise racialized people in U.S. cities employ care as a relational practice, expressive mode, form of labor, and gift to collectively survive historical traumas and present-day harm, conflict and violence — particularly those produced by racial capitalism and neoliberal logics of austerity and charity, which determine who is worth caring for and about, as well as who has the power to control how care is enacted. The dissertation draws from ethnographic research conducted in the Summers of 2018 and 2019 and from June 2020-April 2021 when the researcher was a participant observer with four communities of practice — two wellness centers in Brooklyn, New York and two racial justice organizations in Chicago, Illinois — with people who worked toward making sincere relationships and achieving greater personal well-being by experimenting with different traditional ways of healing illness and trauma, constructing restorative relationships, and establishing sustainable communities of mutual belonging based on Black identity, interracial solidarity, and shared spiritual epistemologies. The grantee applies an ecological framework to understand how care is mobilized, whereby personal healing grows people’s capacity to function in right relationship with one another while the values, beliefs, and visions cultivated in and through these relationships can be articulated onto the social and cultural landscape through community action. In this way, the author builds out a framework for thinking about care at the levels of “self”, “relation”, and “articulation”—as that collective work that builds sustainable social infrastructures.