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Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City
Brandi Thompson Summers
The University of North Carolina Press
Brandi Thompson Summers is Assistant Professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (UNC Press, 2019), which explores how aesthetics and race converge to locate or map blackness in Washington, D.C. Her research engages theoretical themes that cut across multiple domains of social life as she derives 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. Summers is an advisor for the Berkeley Black Geographies Project (theblackgeographic), a collaborative research and teaching platform that uses blackness as a framework to advance contemporary understandings of geography. She has published several articles and essays that analyze the relationship between race, power, aesthetics, and urbanization that appear in both scholarly and popular publications, including the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), ASAP/Journal, QED, Public Books, and The Funambulist.
This incredible book is where Black studies and human geography collide and run off into the sunset together. McKittrick does a wonderful job opening up human geography to seriously consider black spatial agency as she delves into black women’s geographies. What was most interesting/useful to me is her account of how Black women transform geographical space.
Dávila expertly tackles the neoliberalization of Latinx culture, and how the privatization of space has led to the hierarchical ordering of cultural and aesthetic work/workers across multiple geographies. The book offers a meaningful analysis of how neoliberal structures produce economic inequalities through a socially constructed notion of value.
There are plenty of books on gentrification out there, but I love the way Zukin describes how and why cities change. Her emphasis on and deconstruction of “authenticity” help us think more about the role of consumptive practices and the commodification of diversity.