Graduate student Jesse S. Mumm, supervised by Dr. Micaela di Leonardo, will undertake research on how race is constructed and revealed through gentifiction in Chicago. This project approaches gentrification both as a moment that reveals how race operates in the United States, and as a process that transforms race through the medium of urban space. The histories of white flight, suburbanization, ghetto formation, and urban renewal link past cultural changes with the rearrangement of the economy, markets, and capital investment. Today, diverse neighborhoods respond to newcomers in their neighborhoods with a new mix of social and economic strategies and practices.
The research will be conducted in three Chicago neighborhoods that are of historical significance to African-American, Puerto Rican, and Mexican residents. The researcher will conduct intensive research over a twelve-month period using a mixed-methods strategy. Data collection will include a combination of ethnographic participant observation and interviewing with systematic surveys, discourse analysis, and GIS-based spatial analysis to build comparative neighborhood ethnographies. He also will interview, do mapping exercises with, and administer a Contact Scale to a stratified sample of 200 people.
The research is important because urban gentrification in the United States has thrust people from divergent backgrounds into sudden proximity and newfound social and economic cooperation and contention. This project will contribute to a scientific understanding of the neighborhood transformations that result. It also will contribute to the education of a social scientist.