Whose Public? Elucidating Boundaries of Private Claims to Public Educational Space

Authors: Cortland Gilliam*, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Topics: Cultural Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: education, property, race, whiteness
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8228, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The fear that the sphere of education is currently under unprecedented siege by neoliberal economics and its mechanisms of privatization an budgetary restraint is widely held by several advocates and defenders of U.S. public education. While these arguments are merited, and necessary, a close reading of property scholarship reveals some misconceptions about the public nature of public schooling. This paper aims to foreground the historic vulnerability and subjugation of underrepresented student populations by illuminating the taken-for-grantedness of popular notions of public schooling and who is and is not included and excluded in its constitution. Ultimately, the piece answers the question of “whose public is public?” by reviewing literature documenting historic and contemporary influences of race on the boundaries of competing claims to (private) rights, privileges, powers, and immunities over (public) schooling spaces through the lens of property theory.

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