My current book project entitled Bushwick’s Bohemia: Art and Revitalization in Gentrifying Brooklyn examines the racialized political and economic factors that led to the neighborhood’s near collapse in the mid-twentieth century and the role of art, artists, creative industry, and city branding in its contemporary gentrification.
Bushwick’s Bohemia describes the socio-historical development and impact of the of the bohemian art scene in Bushwick. One of the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in New York, Bushwick is considered a center of creative industries and cultural production, making it one of the most desirable places to live, work in and visit. This contemporary art driven revitalization is juxtaposed against the backdrop of Bushwick's recent past, when the neighborhood served as a symbol of urban decline and blight. By tracing Bushwick’s movement from urban decay to urban cool, the book explains the material and symbolic role of artists in Bushwick’s gentrification. Taking the neighborhood as an illustrative case of a process taking place across cities in the nation, the book places artist-driven gentrification within the context of urban policy, the growth of creative industry, race and class dynamics, and the specific history of Bushwick. ------
The foundation and ongoing significance of my research is to develop a contemporary analysis of urban race relations with regard to the evolution of American cities since the end of the Second World War. The explicit use of race-based practices to perpetuate the segregation of African American and Latinx communities has had significant consequences, the effects of which are still felt today. This continuing structural effect of policies such as redlining and Urban Renewal can be found in institutions ranging from education, health and mass incarceration. Still, this legacy can sometimes be difficult to perceive and even harder to measure. My research accentuates an urban approach as a way of grounding the study of race in material conditions, in order to tangibly show how racism becomes embedded within institutions and subsequent behavioral patterns. Gentrification exemplifies the often coded and systemic ways that racial segregation operates today. Often seen as the unfortunate consequence of race-neutral processes, gentrification is a primary driver of displacement of Latino and African American communities in large urban areas. However, my research examines how such residents are not passively subjected to the process of gentrification, but actively work to resist and shape it to preservation the community. My research accentuates an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on the rich literature in a variety of fields and disciplines.