Image from Brooklyn's Sweet Ruin by Paul Raphaelson.
Domino in the Longue Durée (17971-1883): Racial Capitalism & the Urban Question
In 2014, nearly a decade after the closure of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, artist Kara Walker’s site-specific installation piece, “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby: an Homage to the unpaid and overworked artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant” was opened to the public. The central sculpture, a 75-foot long white sphinx encased in 40 tons of sugar, depicted a caricatured representation of a “Mammy” figure juxtaposed with an exaggerated sexual figure. Walker’s sculpture, which foregrounded the contributions of “unpaid and overworked artisans,” serves as a poignant heuristic to connect the site to the legacy of plantation slavery. My dissertation project explores the complex and understudied historical connections between the urban built environment and the political economy of slavery. This research builds on the conceptual insights of the fields of Black geographies and racial capitalism and contributes empirical research to the geographic relationship between the plantation and the factory.
Image from the New York City Department of Records & Information Services
Bodies in Transit: Speculation and the Biopolitical Imaginary
Recover and Remix: Digital Humanities, Heritage Preservation, and Black Geographies
A research framework developed with the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites.
This essay explores the tools, methods, theories, and possibilities of digital humanities (DH) through the lens of CPCRS’ mission. Our focus is on sustaining the “sites” (real and virtual) of Black heritage related to the long Civil Rights movement by pushing back against the structural and ideological forces of erasure, ignorance, and forgetting. How can digital humanities support these political and scholarly efforts? What are its possibilities and limitations? As this review will show, we are optimistic about the creative, empowering, and generative potential of digital humanities to foster and sustain collaborative preservation work and push against the boundaries of how place-based heritage is or could be defined.
Fixing the Accessibility Gap in Municipal Procurement
How can minority- and women-owned businesses overcome structural disadvantages to building wealth through entrepreneurship? In this article, Nicholas Shatan and I assess minority- and women-owned business enterprise (M/WBE) procurement policies in New York City and show that while these programs are designed to generate equitable access to business growth, M/WBE participants are not receiving enough contracts—however, if implemented more strategically and equitably, such policies have the potential to make the economic and social ecosystems within neighborhoods of color more resilient. This research extended from the capacity-building efforts of the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, where I worked as a policy and planning lab intern in 2018.