Urban Frontiers

About the Conference

Urban Frontiers is a conference on gentrification studies on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Neil Smith's The New Urban Frontier.

Monday, July 26, 2021 - 10:45am
Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - 11:00am

The conference is made possible with the sponsorship and support of Faculty Research Awards Program at the University at Albany; the Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latina/o Studies; the Department of Sociology; and the Department of Political Science.


Kafui Attoh
Ariel Bierbaum
Amanda Boston
Zaire Dinzey-Flores
Jan Doering
Rebecca Gerrard
David Hochfelder
Kwame Holmes
Alfredo Huante
Derek Hyra
Hamish Kallin
Maya Kearney
Elizabeth Korver-Glenn
Jan Lin
Johana Londoño
Nancy Raquel Mirabal
Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana
Aaron Shkuda
Tom Slater
Brandi Summers
Francisco Vieyra
Molly Vollman Makris
Timothy Weaver

View the Urban Frontiers program

Urban Frontiers: A Conference on Gentrification Studies, July 26-27, 2021, program front cover

Urban Frontiers: A Conference on Gentrification Studies

Monday, July 26
10:45am | Welcome

Opening remarks by co-organizers Johana Londoño, Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana, Francisco Vieyra, Timothy Weaver

Panel 1 | 11am-12:30pm
Resistance and Gentrification

Discussant: David Hochfelder | University at Albany, SUNY

Rebecca Gerrard | Citizen Action of New York | “NY's Housing Crisis:
The Fight for Innovative Solutions That Can Prevent Concurrent Gentrification”

Jan Lin | Occidental College | “Protesting Gentrification and the Right to the City in Los Angeles”

Kwame Holmes | Bard College | To be announced

Panel Description:
The class warfare at the heart of gentrification is an ongoing concern throughout Smith’s The New Urban Frontier and in particular in chapter 1. This panel brings together activists and academics to address the displacement and resistance to displacement that continues to define the gentrification process.

Panel 2 | 1-2:30pm
Debates on Gentrification

Discussant: Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana | University at Albany, SUNY

Molly Vollman Makris | CUNY
“Employment, Education, and Seasonal Gentrification”

Alfredo Huante | University of California, Los Angeles
“Gentrification and Gente-fication in Latinx Los Angeles”

Brandi Summers | University of California, Berkeley
“Black Joy as Recovery and the Fight Against Place Annihilation”

Panel Description:
The “Debates on Gentrification” panel will cover recent scholarship on what gentrification means, inspired by Smith’s chapter 2 “Is Gentrification a Dirty Word.” Panelists will offer new insights into how different kinds of gentrification (e.g., with different stakeholders involved) may give the term itself a different meaning. Presentations will provide particular insight about marginalized communities including Black, Latinx, and LGBTQIA group members.

Panel 3 | 3-4:30pm
How Gentrification Unfolds

Discussant: Timothy Weaver | University at Albany, SUNY

Amanda Boston | New York University | “Unmaking Black Brooklyn: Race, Place, and Power in the 'New Urban Frontier”

Elizabeth Kover-Glenn | University of New Mexico |
“Housing Developers and Racialized Gentrification”

Aaron Shkuda | Princeton University | “Galleries and Revanchism – Artists and Gentrification from SoHo to the Present Day”

Panel Description:
Inspired by part I of Smith’s The New Urban Frontier, which attempts to theorize the process of gentrification at local and global scales of “uneven development,” this panel discusses various actors and places to illuminate the myriad forces that shape current research on gentrification.

Tuesday, July 27
Panel 4 | 11am-12:30pm
“Social Arguments” on Gentrification

Discussant: Kafui Attoh | The Graduate Center, CUNY

Zaire Dinzey-Flores | Rutgers University | “From Crack to Manor: Racial Matter in Sensitive Design”

Derek Hyra | American University | “Rent Gaps, Race, and REITs”

Hamish Kallin | University of Edinburgh | “Revisiting the Revanchist City: On the Necessity of State Violence to Gentrification in the Work of Neil Smith”

Panel Description:
In chapter 5, “Social Arguments,” Smith examines the social dimensions of gentrification with a particular focus on how it shapes aesthetic and spatial environments. In part II, Smith continues to map gentrification along social dimensions of race, class, and gender, with a special interest in how state and market forces collide to promote unequal spaces. This panel will in particular discuss how the connections between race, policy, and the built environment contribute to today’s gentrification.

Panel 5 | 1-2:30pm
What/Where Are the New Urban Frontiers?

Discussant: Wonhyung Lee | University at Albany, SUNY

Ariel Bierbaum | University of Maryland, College Park | “Educational Displacement Amidst Gentrification: The Case of the Edward W. Bok High School Closure, Sale, and Reuse”

Jan Doering | McGill University | “Gentrification and Institutional Power in the Context of Crime Reduction Efforts”

Maya Kearney | American University | “The Revanchist City and the Carceral Landscape: An Ethnographic Account on the Interconnections of Gentrification and Prison-to-Community Reentry”

Nancy Raquel Mirabal | University of Maryland, College Park | “Gentrification Redux: The Afterlife of Dispossession”

Panel Description:
Inspired by Part III of The New Urban Frontier in which Smith tackles topics such as “frontier” imagery in justifying and shaping gentrification, new ways of mapping the frontier line amidst uneven temporal and geographic disinvestment and reinvestment, erroneous predictions of the demise of gentrification, and the rise of the revanchist city in which racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and the homeless are targeted for displacement and replacement, this panel examines how gentrification is changing – or not – in the 21st century.

Keynote Speaker 3-4pm

Tom Slater | University of Edinburgh | "Rent Gaps, Revanchism and the Revolutionary Imperative: Neil Smith and 'Radically Open' Urban Futures"

4:15-4:45pm | Closing Remarks and Next Steps

Participant Bios

Kafui Attoh is an Associate Professor at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. His broad interests are in the political economy of cities, the politics of public space and debates in and around the idea of the “right to the city.” His research has focused on mass transit’s place within the political economy of cities as well as the role of urban social movements (including the labor movement) in shaping mass transit policy. He is the author of Rights in Transit: Public Transportation and the Right to the City in California’s East Bay (University of Georgia Press 2019) along with a number of journal and popular articles on related issues.

Ariel H. Bierbaum is an assistant professor of urban studies and planning in the School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation at the University of Maryland. Her research answers questions about the relationships between schools, people, and place. Her work advances understanding of how policy and planning for neighborhoods and schools – as distinct and intertwined endeavors – have created landscapes that codify race and class hierarchies in the United States. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Urban Affairs, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Urban Education, and the Transportation Research Record. Twitter: @arielbphd Web: www.arielhbierbaum.com

Amanda Boston is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University. Her research, writing, and teaching explore twentieth-century and contemporary African American urban history, politics, and culture. Her current projects look at the racial operations of gentrification in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and their role in the making and unmaking of the borough’s Black communities. Boston has received research funding and support from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, among other sources. This fall, she will join the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant professor of Africana Studies.

Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Latino & Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on understanding how the urban built environment mediates race and social inequality. Her book, Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City (University Of Pennsylvania Press: 2013) won the 2014 Robert E. Park for best book in urban and community sociology. Her ongoing scholarship focuses on race, housing and neighborhood design in the United States and the Caribbean. Among them, is an examination of race and class distinctions in the production of urban residential spaces in real estate markets and a survey on race among Latinxs. She is a member of the Afro-Latin@ Forum, and a founding member of the Black Latinas Know Collective. Dr. Dinzey-Flores also served as a mayoral appointed Board Member for the New York City Housing Authority. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Sociology and a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan, a M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University, and a B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University.

Jan Doering is assistant professor of sociology at McGill University. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago. His research focuses on ethnoracial conflict and politics as well as processes of neighborhood change. It has been published in Social Problems, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and Urban Affairs Review. Most recently, he published the book “Us versus Them: Race, Crime, and Gentrification in Chicago Neighborhoods” with Oxford University Press.

Rebecca Garrard is the current Legislative Director of Citizen Action of New York and previously served as the Campaign Manager for Housing Justice for the organization. She is a member of the coordinating team of the Upstate/Downstate Housing Alliance/Housing Justice for All Coalition. Rebecca started her career as a labor leader in Dutchess County. There, she organized for racial justice within schools and access to community resources in impoverished communities. Rebecca was a member of the New York State United Teachers’ Civil and Human RIghts Committee for several years. She is currently a member of the State Steering Committee for the New York State Poor People’s Campaign, and serves on theirLegislative and Policy Advisory Committee as well.

David Hochfelder is associate professor of History at University at Albany, SUNY. His current research is on urban renewal in New York State. Along with colleagues Ann Pfau and Stacy Sewell, he is working on a public history project that will document the history of urban renewal in four New York places—Albany, Kingston, Newburgh, and Stuyvesant Town on lower Manhattan. This project, Picturing Urban Renewal, has received four grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Alfredo Huante is a Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow at UCLA. His research examines how racism and economic inequalities persist in urban contexts. Alfredo's current project focuses on the ways transit-oriented developments impact majority-minority neighborhoods in three Southwest cities.

Derek Hyra is a professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. His research focuses on processes of neighborhood change, with an emphasis on housing, urban politics, and race. Dr. Hyra is author of The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville(University of Chicago Press 2008) and Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City (University of Chicago Press 2017). He is working on his next manuscript, Understanding Unrest: Race, Policy, and Neighborhood Inequality(University of California Press). Dr. Hyra strongly believes in public service. He serves as the chair of the American Sociological Association’s Community and Urban Sociology Section, as an editorial advisory board member of Housing Policy Debate, as a City of Falls Church (Virginia) Planning Commissioner, and as an Advocacy Advisory Council member of the United Planning Organization in Washington, DC. He received his BA from Colgate University and his PhD from the University of Chicago.

Hamish Kallin is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh. His research focusses on gentrification, housing, and the multiple ways in which capital remakes the landscape again and again, with a particular focus on urban Scotland. He has published on the links between gentrification and debt, territorial stigmatisation and extra-economic force, failed regeneration schemes, and student housing. He is the convener of the Geographies of Social Justice Research Group at Edinburgh and co-editor (with Giovanna Gioli) of Thinking as Anarchists: Selected Writings from Volont, forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press.

Maya S. Kearney is an Anthropology PhD candidate at American University in Washington, DC. She earned a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Spelman College and MA in Applied Anthropology from University of Maryland, College Park. Her research fields include socio-cultural and urban anthropology, carceral geography, and Black geographies with a topical focus on political economy, urban housing and development, race and space/place, and prisoner reentry. Her dissertation examines state processes that have transformed urban space into what she calls a “gentrified-carceral city” and explores how gentrification impacts housing security for men and women reentrants in material and symbolic ways that is connected to a sense of place and belonging.

Elizabeth Korver-Glenn is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico. Her research and teaching focus on racialized housing markets, segregation, race and religion, and police violence. Elizabeth's research has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals, including the American Sociological Review, Social Problems, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and City & Community. Most recently, her book Race Brokers: Housing Markets and Segregation in 21st Century Urban America, was published by Oxford University Press in April 2021. Coverage of her research has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and other national and regional outlets. Elizabeth is also heavily involved in community-engaged research partnerships, including one on evictions and legal assistance with New Mexico Legal Aid and another on housing and health with the McKinley Community Health Alliance.

Jan Lin is Professor of Sociology at Occidental College and previously taught at the University of Houston and Amherst College. He received a BA from Williams College (1983), an MS from the London School of Economics (1984), and a PhD from the New School for Social Research (1992). He is author of Reconstructing Chinatown: Ethnic Enclave, Global Change (1998), The Power of Urban Ethnic Places: Cultural Heritage and Community Life (2011) and The Urban Sociology Reader (2nd edition, co-edited with Christopher Mele, 2012). He was Principal Investigator for a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Northeast Los Angeles Community Outreach Partnership Center (1999-2002). His book, Taking Back the Boulevard: Art, Activism and Gentrification in Northeast Los Angeles was published in 2019 by New York University Press. His writing and students’ work on gentrification is featured online in Los Angeles KCET-Departures.

Johana Londoño is Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latina/o Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY. She holds a PhD in American Studies from NYU and a BFA from The Cooper Union. Her research interests include barrios, race and space, Latinx culture and communities, and built environments and design. Her first book, Abstract Barrios: The Crises of Latinx Visibility in US Cities (Duke University Press 2020), is the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the Latina/o Studies Section of LASA and a pre-production grant from the Graham Foundation. Londoño has been a fellow with the Ford Foundation; Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities; Northeast Consortium for Faculty Diversity; and Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Program.

Nancy Raquel Mirabal is Associate Professor of American Studies and U.S. Latina/o Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Mirabal earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan and has published widely in the fields of Afro-diasporic, gentrification, and spatial studies. She is the author of Suspect Freedoms: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Cubanidad in New York, 1823-1957 (NYU Press, 2017) and co-editor with Deborah Vargas and Larry LaFountain Stokes, of Keywords for Latina/o Studies (NYU Press, 2018). Her next project examines the politics of archival spaces, visuality, dissonant discourses, and spatial inquiry. She is a recipient of the Scholar in Residence Fellowship, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library; The University Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity, U.C. Berkeley, Department of Ethnic Studies; the International Migration Postdoctoral Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (SSRC); and served as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians (OAH) from 2005-2010.

Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research focuses on the areas of race/ethnicity, urban sociology, and culture including work documenting how neighborhood racial composition contributes to where, when, and how gentrification unfolds.

Aaron Shkuda runs the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities, a program that fosters collaboration between scholars studying urban life and the built environment. Aaron received his PhD in United States urban history from the University of Chicago and is the author of The Lofts of Soho: Gentrification, Art, and Industry in New York, 1950–1980 (Chicago, 2016). He has published articles on subjects ranging from arts-focused retail districts to the architecture and planning behind Battery Park City. He previously held positions at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Universities.

Tom Slater is Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Edinburgh, and he has held fellowships at the University of Trento, Italy, the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the University of Chile (Santiago). He has research interests in the institutional arrangements producing and reinforcing urban inequalities, and in the ways in which marginalized urban dwellers organize against injustices visited upon them. He is the author of 4 books and over 75 scholarly articles on gentrification, displacement from urban space, territorial stigmatization, critical urban theory, and urban social movements. His work has been translated into 9 different languages. His 5th book, Shaking Up The City: Ignorance, Inequality, and the Urban Question, a dissection of mainstream approaches to urban studies, will be published this September by the University of California Press. For more information, see https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/tomslater/

Brandi T. Summers is assistant professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research examines the relationship between and function of race, space, urban infrastructure, and architecture. Her book, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (UNC Press, 2019), explores how aesthetics and race converge to map blackness in Washington, D.C. and the way that competing notions of blackness structure economic relations and develop land in the gentrifying city. Her current research explores how uses of space and placemaking practices inform productions of knowledge and power in Oakland, California. Dr. Summers has published several articles and essays that analyze the relationship between race, power, aesthetics, and urbanization that appear in both scholarly and popular publications, including New York Times, The Boston, Globe, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), Public Books, and The Funambulist. Dr. Summers is a member of the Editorial Collectives at City and ACME, and is on the editorial boards of Urban Geography, AAG Review of Books, cultural geographies, Environment & Planning F, and City & Community.

Francisco Vieyra is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University at Albany. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow in African & African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis and received a PhD in Sociology from New York University. Francisco’s research falls into two main areas: black solidarity, survival, and empowerment and qualitative methodology. At the heart of his work is a book in progress examining the political life of one of Brooklyn’s most marginalized black neighborhoods. It focuses on how everyday residents become politicized and how they generate local change.

Molly Vollman Makris, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Urban Studies, holds a PhD in Urban Systems, with concentrations in Urban Educational Policy and the Urban Environment. Dr. Makris won the American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics’ Choice Book Award and the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Book Award in 2016 for her first book, Public Housing and School Choice in a Gentrified City: Youth Experiences of Uneven Opportunity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her newest book, Gentrification Down the Shore (Rutgers University Press), co-authored with Dr. Mary Gatta, was released in 2020. Her articles have appeared in the Peabody Journal of Education, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Cultural Geography, and Journal of Education Policy. Dr. Makris’ research and teaching have been featured in The Takeaway, The 74 Million, The Progressive, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Daily News, and Chalkbeat to name a few.

Timothy Weaver is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. He is author of Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Urban Political Development in the United States and the United Kingdom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), co-editor with Richardson Dilworth of How Ideas Shape Urban Political Development (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020), and has published articles in the Labor Studies Journal, Studies in American Political Development, Urban Studies, the Urban Affairs Review, and New Political Science. He is the President-Elect of the Urban and Local Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.