Selected Past Research

This web essay describes an earlier project examining the relationship between Black place-making & settlement and the environmental landscape;  it honors community-based work that uses a Black resistance cultural narrative imbued with ecological literacy as a strategy for community development.  See here for a copy of the book chapter on the same research.

Current Research

Dissertation title (expected June 2013)

“Explaining the Uneven Growth of Community Land Trusts:  How Brokerage, State Actors and the Persistence of Racialized Boundaries Influence Spatial Alternatives in the US.”


This dissertation project investigates the conditions under which cities can be the sites for sustainable spatial alternatives (environmental and residential space) for historically marginalized, poor and working-class people.  Specifically, I examine the mechanisms through which the largest urban community land trusts (CLTs) have grown in scale in response to environmental remediation needs and/or a crisis in the availability of affordable housing, and under what conditions those mechanisms could be employed to grow CLTs in African American and/or other minority-majority spaces.  I employ a qualitative, comparative case-study design to explicate the processes, connections and relationships within and across cases in order to specify conditions for the “scaling” of this spatial alternative.

The research adds to the:

  1. critical development and urban studies literature on re-scaling state spaces by elaborating on community-city-state governance interventions by CLT actors working across housing and environment domains;
  2. gaps in the community development, political ecology, housing studies and urban planning literatures by linking the processes of scaling affordable, sustainable, community-based homeownership to city economic crisis’ and state-led responses across space and time;
  3. effort to “bring property back” into urban studies by broadening liberal, ahistorical, economic theories of property through an historical, social-action elaboration of “brokerage” and “legitimization” based property practices.  This project socializes and therefore, politicizes property and land use via critical political economy and political ecology lenses, and last but not least;
  4. critical urban studies literature by spatializing critical race theories through property and institutional space (environmental and social) concepts which reframe property as an ongoing socio-spatial vestige of the American Racial State, complicated by “fast policy webs” and “globalization”.

Future research projects

Comparative extension of dissertation project with 2-3 international cases (Kenya and Brazil in particular) and further theorization of empirical state rescaling practices such as informal settlement upgrading and tenure reform (critical political economy and political ecology);

Additional theorization of spatial and environmental justice practices with a focus on the political economy of racial/ethnic/gender difference, property and household;

Development of *new* data set of all shared equity homeownership units in the US with their various program origins (in collaboration Rick Jacobus of Cornerstone Partnerships/NCB Capital Impact);  New mappings of shared equity use in heavily minority and female-headed households with environmental remediation overlays;

Continued coding and framing of Black Women’s oral history from the early 20th Century (via the Radcliffe Institute) to reframe Black City-Building;

Continued “public” knowledge engagement via blogging, op-eds and worker-organizing training.



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