⎯⎯Publications⎯⎯


Academic articles, essays, and book chapters

Reclaiming the Chocolate City: Soundscapes of Gentrification and Resistance in Washington, D.C.Environment and Planning D: Society & Space 39:1 (February 2021)

In this article, I analyze the #DontMuteDC movement and show how Black people challenge the processes of gentrification by reclaiming space and resisting capitalist dispossession through cultural production. I analyze the movement’s emphasis on go-go music as part of a process to (re)claim their place in the city, which I argue disrupts structures governing and managing normative space. I propose reclamation aesthetics as an analytic through which we can understand Black cultural production and Black place- and space-making practices as responses to socio-spatial inequities.

    
Race, Authenticity, and the Gentrified Aesthetics of Belonging in Washington, DCAesthetics of Gentrification: Seductive Spaces and Exclusive Communities in the Neoliberal City (Amesterdam University Press, 2021)

In this chapter, I examine representations of blackness and diversity and analyze how they are deployed in the pursuit of authenticity in the gentrified city. A vital component of understanding how blackness figures into the “revitalization” of the H Street corridor, in NE Washington, DC, is how culture and authenticity work as instruments of urban development. Given the prominence of culture as a key resource for post-industrial cities to attract tourists and residents, several have implemented strategies to promote urban branding. Racialized expressions are more marketable in the emerging “creative city” that emphasizes cultural consumption and creative, aesthetic practices. Creating authenticity is an integral process to the socio-spatial organization of gentrifying cities. I track the contemporary convergence of hipster aesthetics with a Black cultural space that results in the aesthetic re-coding of the neighbourhood as a diverse commercial corridor.


“The Chocolate State”
Washington History 32:1/2 (Fall 2020)

Essay appears in a special issue titled, “Meeting the Moment: Commentary on 2020.” In it, I consider the stakes of DC statehood in the context of a social, economic, and political crisis, as the US grapples with the question of how Black Lives Matter. More specifically, I address the possibilities of the “Chocolate City” becoming the “Chocolate State.”  


“Fear and Loathing (of Others): Race, Class, and Contestation of Space in Washington, D.C.”
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 43:6 (November 2019)


This article, written with Kathryn Howell, explores the cultural politics of public space and the placemaking politics of urban redevelopment in the Atlas District of Washington, DC, a popular commercial district undergoing rapid gentrification. The article focuses on uses of public space and describes how various forms of power are linked to the control of space in the context of gentrification. Our analysis focuses on designated public space in the Atlas District––the Starburst Plaza. By analyzing everyday practices around community control at the Starburst Plaza, this case study focuses on the discrete methods by which the symbolic and material inequities promulgated by the neoliberal state are reconfigured through struggles to define and manage contested public spaces.

“Post-Apocalyptic Shine in the Afro-Future.”
ASAP/Journal 4:2 (May 2019)

This solicited essay appears in a special issue dedicated to automation. It draws on conceptions of blackness, visuality, and resistance aesthetics in relation to a post-apocalyptic editorial spread of Rihanna in W magazine. I theorize excess shine as an adaptation for the Afro-future.

“Haute (Ghetto) Mess”: Post-Racial Aesthetics and the Seduction of Blackness in High Fashion.” In Racism Post-Race: Culture, Critique, and the Color Line, edited by Herman Gray, Sarah Banet-Weiser, and Roopali Mukherjee (Duke University Press, 2019)

This chapter analyzes the “Haute Mess” editorial in the March 2012 issue of Vogue Italia to demonstrate that “hyperblackness” does not only require the presentation of blackness in bodily form, but it can also reference symbolic renderings of blackness – without being named as such. Through my textual/image analysis, the piece foregrounds the value of diversity in the fashion industry and the structuring logic of race-neutrality in its presentation of blackness as style. I argue that race is both made and un-made in fashion on the one hand through the production/performance of difference, and on the other hand through the flattening of difference where difference generates cultural and economic value via consumption and celebration. Finally, I consider blackness as an aesthetic that can be attached to black bodies, but is also present in objects, performances, language, etc. I investigate the deployment of blackness as the result of a historically situated aesthetic formation.


“Race as Aesthetic: The Politics of Vision, Visibility, and Visuality in Vogue Italia’s ‘A Black Issue.’” QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking 4:3 (Fall 2017)

This article highlights the construction of black bodies as valuable in the fashion system as a mark of difference and evidence of diversity. Here, I also render the high fashion industry as a site of conflicting elements concerning the deployment and meaning of the black female body. To do so, I use a combined analysis of activism in the fashion industry, which calls for the representation of black models through the visible inclusion of more black bodies on the runway and in magazines, and a textual/image analysis of the July 2008 issue of Vogue Italia, “A Black Issue.” I argue that representations of the black models in the Vogue Italia Black Issue present the “glamorous” black model’s body as unthreatening, alluring, and integrated into dominant discourses of feminine attractiveness. I draw from the presentation of images in the high fashion industry to highlight instances when blackness is asked to prove a post-race and post-racist reality. I argue that the presentation of black bodies becomes less about their blackness, and more about their ability to sell a marketable black aesthetic.

“H Street, Main Street and the Neoliberal Aesthetics of Cool.” In Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, DC, edited by Derek Hyra and Sabiyha Prince (Routledge, 2015)

This chapter argues that the category of diversity has performed subtle, yet significant discursive work in the development of a popular, gentrifying commercial district in Washington, D.C. I highlight the relationship between race, diversity, belonging and urban development in the historical devaluation of the H Street commercial corridor, as a Black space, and its revaluation as an emerging multicultural neighborhood. I also explore how discourses of diversity and neoliberalism shape what hand who are deemed un/desirable and I identify how these discourses legitimate practices of racial inequality without naming race. By using diversity to map the space, I argue that the development of H Street places emphasis on a specific ideology of difference as multiculturalism and diversity in the spread of neoliberalism.
Brandi T. Summers, Ph.D.
cover images by Bethanie Hines
Twitter ︎
LinkedIn ︎