Brandi Thompson Summers

Black geographies; urban geography; racial aesthetics; design, planning, and architecture; cultural politics of difference

589 McCone Hall

I am an assistant professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Masters degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. My research engages theoretical themes that cut across multiple domains of social life. I build on epistemological and methodological insights from cultural and urban geography, urban sociology, African American studies, and media studies by examining the cultural, political, and economic dynamics by which race and space are reimagined and reordered.

My first book, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (UNC Press), explores how aesthetics and race converge to locate or map blackness in Washington, D.C. In it, I demonstrate the way that competing notions of blackness structure efforts to structure economic relations and develop land in the gentrifying city. My current book project, tentatively titled Routes of Race, Resistance, and the Geographies of Belonging in Oakland, California, is an interdisciplinary study that examines the complex ways in which uses of space and placemaking practices inform productions of knowledge and power. The study examines representations and experiences of space, place, and landscape in Oakland across historical contexts.

I have published several articles and essays that analyze the relationship between race, power, aesthetics, and urbanization that appear in both academic and popular publications, including the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), ASAP/Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe, Public Books, and The Funambulist. My research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, among others.