Race: A Story of Property

Authors: Rachel Brahinsky*, University of San Francisco
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: race, urban geography, San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The socio-spatial functions of race and racism are the genetic material of property. From the accumulation and claiming of land to the legal and policy processes that dictate the use of it, racial exclusions are the buttresses of property, the scaffolding and the bones. Our understanding of how this works in the US context is often described in binary terms, around the poles of Black and white. But there is something missing in that framing, given the lived realities of major American cities, which are shaped by waves of migration from around the world. Thus, even as anti-blackness has calcified in the property system, multi-racial urbanism – and the class dynamics that accompany it – may push the meaning and functioning of property in new directions. This question is particularly relevant in coastal cities, and the San Francisco Bay Area offers a key example. Essentially: We have yet to reckon with the ways that multi-racial urbanism shapes property markets. We need new ways to explain how race and property interlock. This is a mixed methods project, drawing on a range of narrative forms to help explain the political-economic dynamics of property in the urban Bay Area. Analyzing narratives from both “above and below,” this paper strives to develop a framework for analysis that will support a non-binary understanding of the story of race and property.

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