Matrix is located on the 8th floor of Barrows Hall, on the UC Berkeley campus, near Telegraph and Bancroft Avenues, just up the hill from Sather Gate. There are entrances at both ends of the building, but only one of the elevators on the eastern side goes directly to the 8th floor. You can alternatively take either elevator to the 7th floor and walk up the stairs.
While Washington, D.C., is still often referred to as “Chocolate City,” it has undergone significant demographic, political, and economic change in the last decade. In D.C., no place represents this shift better than the H Street corridor. In her book, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City, Brandi Thompson Summers, Assistant Professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies at UC Berkeley, documents D.C.’s shift to a “post-chocolate” cosmopolitan metropolis by charting H Street’s economic and racial developments. In doing so, she offers a theoretical framework for understanding how blackness is aestheticized and deployed to organize landscapes and raise capital.
Summers focuses on the continuing significance of blackness in a place like the nation’s capital, how blackness contributes to our understanding of contemporary urbanization, and how it laid an important foundation for how Black people have been thought to exist in cities. Summers also analyzes how blackness—as a representation of diversity—is marketed to sell a progressive, “cool,” and authentic experience of being in and moving through an urban center. Using a mix of participant observation, visual and media analysis, interviews, and archival research, Summers shows how blackness has become a prized and lucrative aesthetic that often excludes D.C.’s Black residents.
Join us for an online discussion on October 7 as Thompson Summers will discuss the book with Nikki Jones, Professor in the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley.
About the Speakers
Brandi Thompson Summers is Assistant Professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Masters degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Her research engages theoretical themes that cut across multiple domains of social life. She builds 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. Her 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, she demonstrates the way that competing notions of blackness structure efforts to raise capital and develop land in the gentrifying city. Her 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. She has 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. Her research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, among others.
Nikki Jones is a professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a faculty affiliate with the Center for the Study of Law and Society. Her areas of expertise include urban ethnography, race and ethnic relations and criminology and criminal justice, with a special emphasis on the intersection of race, gender, and justice. Professor Jones has published three books, including the sole-authored Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner City Violence (2010), published in the Rutgers University Press Series in Childhood Studies (betweengoodandghetto.com). Her research appears in peer-reviewed journals in sociology, gender studies, and criminology. Jones’ next book, based on several years of field research in a San Francisco neighborhood, examines how African American men with criminal histories change their lives, and their place in the neighborhood once they do. Her current research draws on the systematic analysis of video records that document routine encounters between police and civilians, including young Black men’s frequent encounters with the police. Professor Jones is the past-Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Race, Gender and Class Section (2012-13). She also serves on the editorial boards of the American Sociological Review and Gender & Society. Jones has received awards for her research and publications including the William T. Grant Award for Early Career Scholars (2007-12) and the New Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Women and Crime (2010) and Division on People of Color and Crime (2009). Before joining the faculty at Cal Professor Jones was on faculty in the Department of Sociology at UC Santa Barbara (from 2004-2013). She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology and Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania.