Brandi Thompson Summers is an 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 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 project 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 New York Times, Boston Globe, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), ASAP/Journal, QED, 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.