Understanding the City as a Settler Colonial Structure

Much of the scholarship within American urban sociology has concerned itself with the various forms of inequality that have developed in and around US cities throughout its history. The various schools of critical urban sociology have various developed ways of understanding cities as raced (Lai 2012), classed (Reardon and Bischoff 2011), and gendered (Popkin, Leventhal, and Weismann 2010) spaces where broader social hierarchies and system are reinforced and acted upon. Collectively these works argues for a broad understanding of the city as a both a reflection of broad American social values as well as a space that can have great influence over the development of these same values.
Absent from most of discussions within urban sociology is the history and narrative of Native Americans and the history of settler colonialism in the United States. This erasure is analogous to the general erasure of indigenous people and their experiences within most social scientific discourses (Dei 2000; Habashi 2005; Quah 1993). There has been movement in recent years to reverse this erasure. Andrea Smith (2008) while exploring the intertwined logics of slavery, genocide, and orientalism within white supremacy highlighted the current incompatibilities between narratives of indigenous scholars, which mistakenly equating African American “settlers” with white settlers, and African American/anti-racist which scholarship ignoring the existence of settler colonialism and indigenous peoples. Smith called for an integration of these various logics arguing that without doing so we become complacent in reifying these oppressive logics. Similarly, Evelyn Nakano Glenn (2015) discussed on a macro level how the dynamics of settler colonialism in the United States affected the racial formation of various oppressed communities. She concluded with the hope that by bringing together the insights of different inequality frameworks, including settler colonialism, scholars can “work toward a higher level theoretical model that can be widely used by social scientists both in the United States and internationally.”

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The Transition from Blackness as Property to Blackness as Pathogen in the United States

(Derived from a course paper for a Historical Institutionalism class taught by Jim Mahoney at Northwestern University)

One of the central stories within United States history is that of the development of its racial regime. From slavery till today we have seen fairly large changes in the racial regime that reflect changes in how the nation, specifically its white settler populations, understood various racialized peoples in relation to itself. In sociology the predominant group dynamic is that of anti-Black racism. Produced out of the institution of chattel slavery, many of the broader developments within the racial order can be tied at least partly to Black-White relations. In this paper I will propose an investigation of the larger transitions in the US racial order and its perception of Black people which is the transition from the slavery based conception of Blackness as property to the modern conception of Blackness as pathogen. This proposal will use historical institutionalism based logic of critical junctures to conduct the analysis.

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