Mia Karisa Dawson
Mia Karisa Dawson is a community organizer and scholar based in Sacramento. She is a PhD Candidate in the Geography Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis, with a designated emphasis in African American studies. Her scholarly work focuses on urban human geography and Black social movements. Mia also works with the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. In this capacity, she collaborates on the development of community-based violence interruption programs and alternative first response systems. As a community organizer, she has led and participated in initiatives against police terror and incarceration in her city with groups including Black Lives Matter and Decarcerate Sacramento.
Mia’s commitment to social change stems from her background in ecology. Before beginning graduate school, while working in conservation in the Sierra Nevada mountains, she found a growing interest in the entanglements of human and non-human landscapes. Returning to school to deepen this focus, as a MA student in Geography, she studied environmental justice movements as they intersect with Black social movements. Working with the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, she collaborated on projects studying disparities in air and water quality in rural and urban California, contributing to environmental justice policy recommendations and interventions.
Mia’s work has been published in journals including ‘Society and Space’ and ‘Water Alternatives’. She has also collaborated on reports published through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. Her work has been supported by organizations including the Mellon Research Initiative on Racial Capitalism, the Society of Women Geographers, the American Association of Geographers, the Mellon Public Scholars Program, the University of Georgia Community Mapping Lab, and the UC Santa Cruz Visualizing Abolition program. In all her scholarly and community efforts, she honors a legacy of Black social movement that enables her work and fuels her commitments to political education, mutual aid, and collective liberation.