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Questions and Answers with Brittany Lewis, CURA’s New Research Associate

Dr. Brittany Lewis is CURA’s new Research Associate.

Dr. Brittany Lewis is CURA’s new Research Associate.

May 25, 2017

Dr. Brittany Lewis is CURA’s Research Associate with an expertise in community-engaged research, urban housing, community economic development, and critical race and gender studies. A 2015–2016 Postdoctoral Fellow at Bowdoin College and 2014–2015 University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, Dr. Lewis has established herself as a scholar committed to investigating the ways that local urban communities resist the racialized gendered legacies of housing segregation, redlining, and concentrated poverty. Below is a brief Q&A session with Dr. Lewis.

When we chatted several months ago, you mentioned that your path as a PhD has been a winding one. Tell us a little bit about your path to CURA. 

I received my doctorate from the University of Minnesota in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies with specialties in urban inequality, critical race and gender studies, affordable housing, and community economic development. Methodologically, I am an engaged urban ethnographer with extensive skills in qualitative methodologies. As an activist scholar who utilizes a community-engaged research approach to do critical race and gender studies work with a focus on urban America, I developed my critical analytic and applied research skills to become a scholar intelligible to both academics and the broader urban community. This provided me opportunities to produce a highly theoretical women of color feminist scholarship as well as tangible products for local nonprofits and their partners seeking to affect community change. I was a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Bowdoin College, and produced the first report on the State of Black Women’s Economics in Minnesota for the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance. 

You mentioned that you have recently published several articles and have others that are forthcoming. Can you tell us a little bit about those?

I received the Mae C. King Distinguished Paper award on race, gender, and black politics (2012), and later published in Race and Hegemonic Struggle in the United States (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2014). Additionally, I have recently completed an invited submission to the National Political Science Review (in press, 2016) on engaged black feminist ethnography, and currently published an article entitled “The Black Shadow of White Sympathy” in Dangerous Discourses: Gender, Women, and Guns (Peter Lang Publishing, 2016).

My most recent publication “The Black Shadow of White Sympathy” extended my research agenda by comparing and analyzing the public’s reactions to the death of black girls both in real life and in popular media representations. By tracing innocence as a U.S. racial formation, I argued that in death black girls are denied the public sympathy and remorse that markers of innocence grant their white counterparts.

What projects are you working on in your first several months at CURA? Tell us about your role in the CURA gentrification study.

I was brought on to develop and implement the qualitative work on CURA’s gentrification project as well as lead CURA’s efforts in the area of policing. To this end, my work on the gentrification project aims to use residential interviews to assess whether or not our quantitative indexes of gentrification match resident perception. In addition, my work in the area of policing will be investigating the issues of bail reform, police education standards, and the disproportionate impact of low-level fines and fees on people of color. 

Are there any articles or books that you have read recently that you would recommend?

I would recommend Matthew Desmond’s Evicted.