"Returning Home to Our Rightful Place": The Nation of Islam and Muhammad Farms

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33 Scopus citations


This paper demonstrates how the Nation of Islam (NOI), a well known black nationalist organization, is utilizing notions of community to promote the activities and goals of its farm to other black people. The NOI owns Muhammad Farms in rural southern Georgia, USA. Its stated purpose is to feed all black people in the United States. Historically, the NOI has occupied a radical space in the black community by promoting black separatism. I argue that while its stance on separatism has not changed, discourse about Muhammad Farms appeals to more generalized notions of community uplift and self-determination, key components of black community nationalism. The NOI employs these discursive strategies to rally other black people around their message. I utilize archival and textual research along with critical discourse analysis to unpack this dialectical relationship between black racial identity and the farm. I claim that the NOI utilizes and creates black information networks in part to control knowledge disseminated about the farm. They are retelling black agrarian history in a way that mixes fact, fiction and shock value. Validation from others, mainly white people is antithetical to the NOI's black nationalist principles. Ultimately the organization seeks to recreate the farm as a landscape of liberation that includes tragedy, triumph and hope for the future. The NOI presents Muhammad Farms as a symbol and example of the possibilities if black people return to the farm. Muhammad Farms also serves as a living memorial to black agrarian history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based in part on work supported by the National Science Foundation under award number 0902925 and also the Association of American Geographers through a Dissertation Research Grant. I would like to acknowledge Hilda Kurtz and Steve Holloway for their invaluable feedback on this work. I would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of this manuscript and invaluable comments. I would also like to acknowledge participants at the 2009 Association of American Geographer’s Annual Meeting and the 2008 Race and Food Conference at the University of California Santa Cruz, and numerous other professors and graduate students at The University of Georgia and The University of Connecticut for their willingness to talk through these ideas with me. Lastly, I would like to thank my family for their continuous support.

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Agriculture
  • Alternative food
  • Black community nationalism
  • Black nationalism
  • Community
  • Farming
  • Ideology
  • Race
  • Racism
  • Separatism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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