DCRP/GMS Lecture: Brandi Thompson Summers
Black in Place:
The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City
Professor Brandi Thompson Summers, Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies
Discussants: Abigail Cochran (City and Regional Planning), Christian Hosam (Political Science), and Brenda Mathias (Global Metropolitan Studies and Social Welfare).
Co-sponsored by the Department of City and Regional Planning, Global Metropolitan Studies, and the ARCUS program
While Washington, D.C., is still often referred to as “Chocolate City,” it has undergone significant demographic, political, and economic change in the last decade. In D.C., no place represents this shift better than the H Street corridor. Brandi Thompson Summers documents D.C.’s shift to a “post-chocolate” cosmopolitan metropolis by charting H Street’s economic and racial developments. In doing so, she offers a theoretical framework for understanding how blackness is aestheticized and deployed to organize landscapes and raise capital. Summers focuses on the continuing significance of blackness in a place like the nation’s capital, how blackness contributes to our understanding of contemporary urbanization, and how it laid an important foundation for how Black people have been thought to exist in cities. Summers also analyzes how blackness—as a representation of diversity—is marketed to sell a progressive, “cool,” and authentic experience of being in and moving through an urban center.
Brandi Thompson Summers is an assistant professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies at UC Berkeley. Dr. Summers’ book, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (UNC Press, 2019), explores how aesthetics and race converge to locate or map blackness in Washington, D.C. Her next book examines the complex ways in which uses of space and placemaking practices inform productions of knowledge and power.
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