Azeezat Johnson was a passionate, inspiring and brave scholar, packed with potential and burning bright. When I reflect on all that she has already done to define Black Feminist Geographies, I find it hard to believe that Azeezat only graduated from her PhD in 2017. Azeezat’s radical writing is conspicuously coherent with her lived politics. As an early career scholar, not only has Azeezat already published extensively on race and gender, she has also published work that is intensely illuminating for any career stage: as an example, her powerful article ‘Throwing our bodies against the white background of academia’ is in the top 5% of articles tracked by Altmetric.
Inexhaustibly committed to change-making, Azeezat has been a driving force in a range of ground-breaking collectives that have cared for and challenged both her peers and more established colleagues like myself. A founding member of Sheffield’s Critical Race and Ethnicity Black Feminist network, for example, Azeezat co-organised conferences, seminar series and, ultimately, an essay collection (‘The Fire Now’) that drew together diverse academics and activists of colour to show, as Europe Now journal put it, that “reflection should serve as the foundation for action”. Equally, Azeezat was an editor for Feminist Review Collective until, never afraid to say what must be said, she ended her editorship with a public resignation letter and a co-written blog post about a ‘crisis of care’ in Feminist Review Collective: these actions brought about a renewed commitment to change. Most recently the Geography and Embodiment (GEM) Collective, of which Azeezat was a founder member, has brought together scholars to consider a new politics of care and embodiment (including pain and trauma): “We reimagine the worlds we live in, we centre systems of care that honour our different embodied beings and traumas. GEM is about creating space for us to breathe; and more importantly, space for us to shine.”
In an unrelated blog post for Feminist Review, Azeezat summed up her determination to build a better world: “I’ve come to realise that I want to spend my time on this earth (no matter how long or short that might be) working towards a world where we do not have to desperately shout that our lives matter.”
– Pat Noxolo