Brandi Thompson Summers

Research Expertise and Interest

black geographies, urban geography, race and urban aesthetics, urban planning, urban design, architecture, political economy

Research Description

Brandi Thompson Summers is associate professor of Geography 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 at the University of Chicago. Her research 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(link is external) (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 research includes a book project that examines representations and experiences of space, place, and landscape in her hometown, Oakland, CA; and “The Archive of Urban Futures,” a multi-modal archival project, funded by the Mellon Foundation, that focuses on questions of history, value, the right to place, memory, and erasure in Black Oakland.

Dr. Summers is a Contributing Writer for Places Journal and 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 New York Times, The Boston, Globe, Urban Geography, Antipode, and The Funambulist. Summers is on the editorial boards of Urban Geography, cultural geographies, Environment and Planning F, AAG Review of Books, and City & Community

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
July 10, 2020
Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui
A Washington, D.C., neighborhood devastated by riots in 1968 is unrecognizable today, as high-end development rises directly on top of Black neighborhoods. "If you devalue the whole area, you can redevelop the whole area based on a particular narrative of it," said Brandi T. Summers, a professor of geography and global metropolitan studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her book "Black in Place" followed the transformation of H Street Northeast in Washington after the riots.
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