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Race, Place, & the Law (seminar)

Brian Highsmith
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This seminar explores the institutional stakes of geography for economic opportunity and democratic representation, focusing on racial separation and subjugation in the United States. The first part of the course consider how law and policy help determine where people reside; the remainder explores how and why “place” matters. Many of our readings—which draw from public policy reports, historical context, legal scholarship, and contemporary social science—will focus on the case study of mass punishment, covering such issues as prison gerrymandering and local governments’ reliance on regressive fines and fees that are generated through overpolicing. The primary goals of this course will be to first understand the hidden stakes of geography, as shaped by racialized processes of exclusion and dispossession, and then to apply the resulting insights to contemporary policy problems.