Monica White

Associate Professor



Office Location

314 Agricultural Hall
1450 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Monica M. White earned a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University in Sociology. She is an assistant professor of Environmental Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a joint appointment in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and is a former Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.

Her research engages communities of color and grassroots organizations that are involved in the development of sustainable community food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. Her publications include, “Sisters of the Soil: Urban Gardening as Resistance Among Black Women in Detroit” and “D-Town Farm: African American Resistance to Food Insecurity and the Transformation of Detroit.” She is currently working on her first book, “Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, 1880-2010,” which contextualizes new forms of contemporary urban agriculture within the historical legacies of African American farmers who fought to acquire and stay on the land. Using historical and contemporary examples, Freedom Farmers examines the development of farmers’ cooperatives as strategies of resistance, and documents the ways that these organizations, in general, and Black farmers specifically, have contributed to the Black Freedom Movement.

As a result of her scholarship and community work, Dr. White has received several grants including a multi-year, multi-million dollar USDA research grant to study food insecurity in Michigan. She has also received several awards including the 2013 Olsen Award for distinguished service to the practice of Sociology from the Michigan Sociological Association and the Michigan Campus Compact Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award. She was appointed to the Food Justice Task Force sponsored by the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy (IATP), maintains a highly ranked and reviewed blog (soil2soul) and is highly sought after and has presented her work at many national and international community organizations, colleges and universities.

Author of Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, University of North Carolina Press. 2018.

White, Monica M.  2011. “D-Town Farm:  African American Resistance to Food Insecurity and the Transformation of Detroit.”  Environmental Practice.  Vol. 13 (4).  White, Monica M.  2011.

“Sisters of the Soil:  Urban Gardening as Resistance in Detroit.”  Race/Ethnicity:  Multicultural Global Contexts. Race/Ethnicity:  Multicultural Global Contexts.  Vol. 5 (1). White, Monica, M.  2010.

“Shouldering Responsibility for the Delivery of Human Rights:  A Case Study of the D-Town Farmers of Detroit,” Race/Ethnicity: Multicultural Global Contexts, Vol. 3 (2):  189-212. White, Monica, M.  2009.

“Familial Influence in the Autobiographies of Black South African and African American Women Activists.”  Michigan Family Review, Vol. 10 (1):  27-44. White, Monica, M.  2003.

Manuscripts in Progress and Under Review

White, Monica, M. “A Journey to Liberation:  Culture of Resistance and Mobilization in the Newsletters of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.” Under Review at Critical Sociology.

White, Monica, M.  “Cultivating Justice:  Teaching, Research, and Community Engagement Through Urban Gardens.”  Under Review at Teaching Sociology.

White, Monica, M.  “Planting Seeds of Resistance, Harvesting Change: Race, Gender and Farming in Detroit.” To be submitted to International Social Science Review.

White, Monica, M. “The White Elephant in the Community Garden: Race, Whiteness and the Urban Gardening Movement in Detroit.” To be submitted to Mobilization.

Chapters in Edited Volumes: Race Struggles

White, Monica, M.  2009. “Socio-Psychological Processes in Racial Formation:  A Case Study of the Autobiographies of Former Black Panther Party Members,” in Race Struggles, edited by S. Cha-Jua, T. Koditschek, & H. Neville. University of Illinois Press.

Courses Taught

  • Critical Race Theory
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Deviant Behavior
  • History of the Black Freedom Movement
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Individual and Society
  • Research Methods (General and Qualitative)

Lecture Topics

  • Social Movement Theory
  • Food Systems
  • Urban/Community Agriculture
  • Black Feminist Theory
  • Public Sociology
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Critical Race Theory
  • History of the Black Freedom Movement
  • Transnational Resistance
  • Racial and Activist Identity Formation

Winner of the 2020 First Book Award, Association for the Study of Food in Society

Winner of the 2019 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Division of Race and Ethnic Minorities Section of the Society for the Study of Social Problems