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Kevin Fox Gotham

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Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, School of Liberal Arts (SLA)
Professor of Sociology
102 Newcomb Hall
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA  70118
Phone: (504) 862-3004
Fax: (504) 865-5544
Email: kgotham@tulane.edu



Areas of Research and Teaching Specialty:

Urban Sociology
Social Theory
Sociology of Culture
Comparative-Historical Sociology
Race and Ethnicity
Political Sociology
Economic Sociology
Sociology of Law
Real Estate and Housing Policy
Political Economy of Tourism
Post-Disaster Urban Redevelopment
Urban Ecosystems
Sustainable Development

Last updated: 5/13/2014




Education Record:

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Kansas, 1997
M.A., Sociology, University of Kansas, 1992
B.A., Sociology, University of Kansas, 1990




Professional Appointments:

2008-present, Associate Dean, School of Liberal Arts (SLA), Tulane University
2008-present, Professor of Sociology, Tulane University
2009-2014, Director, Social Policy and Practice Program (SPP), Tulane University
2011, Interim Director, Asian Studies Program, Tulane University
2006-2008, Program Director, National Science Foundation (NSF), Sociology, Political Science, and Law and Social Science (LSS) Programs
2003-2008, Associate Professor of Sociology, Tulane University
2004, Visiting Professor, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France
1997-2003, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Tulane University
2002-2003, Adjunct Professor of the College of Urban and Public Affairs, University of New Orleans
2004, Visiting Professor, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France
1997-2003, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Tulane University
2002-2003, Adjunct Professor of the College of Urban and Public Affairs, University of New Orleans




Consulting Activities:

January-July 2014, Expert (EE-0101), Directorate for Social, Behavior, and Economic Sciences, Division of Social and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation




Research Agenda:

Over the last 15 years or so, my research agenda has focused on three interconnected areas: (1) Real Estate and Housing Policy; (2) Urban Redevelopment and the Political Economy of Tourism; and most recently, (3) Risk, Vulnerability, Resilience, and Sustainable Development. Within each of these three areas, my interests have focused on several themes and topics, as described below. At any one time, I have three major projects going on: one that I am beginning, one that I am in the middle of, and one that I am completing.

 

1. Real Estate and Housing Policy

One research agenda I have examines the linkages between housing policies, and the transformation of the real estate sector. Several of my publications examine the segregative effect of federal housing programs, the racially discriminatory aspects of post World War II urban planning, and the negative effect of neighborhood racial composition on mortgage lending (e.g., redlining). I have also investigated racial conflicts over federal efforts to locate low-income housing in suburban areas, the role of community identity in the emergence of a local anti-expressway movement, the negative consequences of the market-centered orientation of federal housing policy, and the impact of real estate blockbusting on neighborhood racial transition. I have also published a series of articles with colleagues that examine the links between the built environment of public housing and the symbolic meanings that people attach to spaces in the city. Other research I have been involved in explores the impact of city revitalization efforts and pro-growth strategies on metropolitan development and neighborhood socio-economic stability. Some of this later research informs my edited volume on urban redevelopment, Critical Perspectives on Urban Redevelopment (Elsevier Press, 2001). See my introduction (“Urban Redevelopment: Past and Present”) and my conclusion (Urban Redevelopment for Whom and for What Purpose: A Research Agenda for the Twenty First Century”).

My book, Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience, 1900-2010, (SUNY Press, first edition released in 2002, second edition released in 2014) explores the interlocking nature of racial discrimination and class factors in the origin and development of racial residential segregation. I emphasize the importance of analyzing housing as a system of social stratification and provide a novel account of the history of the real estate industry and federal housing policy in racialization of space. Drawing on extensive primary research, I investigate, for instance, how the leading actors within the emerging real estate industry cultivated and promulgated a segregationist ideology that linked the residential presence of blacks with neighborhood deterioration and other negative consequences. Turning to the origin of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), I show how race and racial discrimination became institutionalized as a central component of the modern mortgage system that profoundly affected postwar suburbanization. Later chapters focus on the segregative effect of urban renewal, school administrative actions, real estate blockbusting, and mortgage redlining. Throughout the book, I show how real estate activities and federal housing policy have traditionally reflected an ideology of privatism that celebrates the supremacy of the "free" market and reinforces sentiments favoring social exclusion and isolation. In the final chapter, I draw attention to the fact that while race is no longer an explicit real estate selling tool, it has become an unspoken but understood element of other seemingly non-racial factors - exclusionary zoning, gated neighborhoods, property values, and school quality - that work together to perpetuate racially segregated settlement spaces. Click here for more information about the first edition of my book. For information about the second edition, see here.

A closely related research interest is on the globalization of the U.S. real estate industry and, in particular, the institutional and political changes that have occurred in the financing of real estate over the last few decades. Theoretically, I am interested in explaining how a spatially fixed commodity like real estate is transformed into a liquid security that buyers and sellers in different places can understand and exchange. Empirically, I examine the impact of state laws, charters, and regulations in the expansion of the secondary mortgage market, the creation of the commercial mortgage-backed securities market, and the development of real estate investment trusts (REITs). Throughout my various articles, I highlight how the state activity shapes the development of global real estate flows and networks of activity through the creation and control of liquid resources.In several publications, I investigate the origin and demise of the New Deal housing system, examine the impact of deregulation initiatives in the 1970s and later, and analyze the development of new housing policies and financing mechanisms since the 1980s. The production and financing of real estate and housing connect to wider economic and social processes, including transformations in the political economy of capitalism, state regulatory policy, and the political power of interest groups. Broadly, my research examines the multi-decade restructuring of the U.S. housing finance system, and the causes and consequences of the subprime mortgage crisis. Below is a list of my publications pertaining to real estate and housing policy.



2. Urban Redevelopment and the Political Economy of Tourism

My book, Authentic New Orleans: Race, Culture, and Tourism in the Big Easy (New York University (NYU) Press, 2007) illuminates the interlocking nature of conflicts over race, culture, and authenticity in New Orleans and traces historically how tourism practices have displayed and articulated these conflicts.My historical narrative spans almost two centuries and is built from archival sources, government documents, ethnographic data, and qualitative interviews. My book begins in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina amid the whirlwind of speculation about the rebuilding of the city and the dread of outsiders wiping New Orleans clean of the charm and authenticity that made it famous. I then examine the origins of Carnival and the Mardi Gras celebration in the nineteenth century, the planning and staging of the 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, and investigate other image-building campaigns and promotional strategies to disseminate a palatable image of New Orleans on a national scale.In other chapters, I discuss conflicts over the commercialization of heritage and cultural difference, efforts to promote Mardi Gras as a tourist attraction, and tourism development in the French Quarter. As I show, tourism practices have often been intertwined with notions of race and class.The phrase “‘authentic’ New Orleans” does not mean an immutable or objective reality but refers to a plurality of socially constructed and idealized representations of the city that residents, organizations, and tourism boosters have constructed over the decades. Like all constructions of reality, the term “authentic” New Orleans is a malleable, fabricated, and heterogeneous category that different groups use to define urban culture, create and express identities, and reinterpret the past. Like the terms “place” and “culture,” authenticity is deceptively slippery and often taken as a historically given in New Orleans. As my book documents, symbols and framings of “authentic” New Orleans have always been in flux and transformation. On the one hand, I analyze the social construction of “authentic” New Orleans as a conflictual and contested process by which different groups and interests struggle to legitimate their own collective beliefs and values as authoritative representations of local culture.On the other hand, I analyze “authentic” New Orleans as a manufactured image, whereby powerful tourism interests project onto local culture what they believe are tourists’ expectations, preferences, stereotyped images of the city.Overall, the purpose of my book is to understand and explain the ways in which local people have defined authenticity over time, the role of power and conflict in the construction of the authentic, and various historically changing ways tourism practices have shaped and (re)defined what is authentic.
In 2008, my book was awarded Honorable Mention for the Robert Park Outstanding Book Award, Community and Urban Sociology Section (CUSS) of the American Sociological Association (ASA).
I also discuss related topics and themes in the articles below.



3. Risk, Vulnerability, Resilience, and Sustainable Development


From 2006-2014, I worked with Miriam Greenberg (Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz) on a comparative historical analysis of the political, economic, and cultural effects of the recovery and rebuilding process in New York and New Orleans following the 9/11 disaster and devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Our book is titled Crisis Cities: Disaster and Redevelopment in New York and New Orleans (Oxford University Press, 2014).Based on years of research in the two cities, we contend that New York and New Orleans have emerged as paradigmatic crisis cities, representing a free-market approach to post-disaster redevelopment that is increasingly dominant for crisis-stricken cities around the world.This mode of urbanization emphasizes the privatization of disaster aid, devolution of recovery responsibility to the local state, use of tax incentives and federal grants to spur market-centered redevelopment, and utopian branding campaigns to market the redeveloped city for business and tourism.Meanwhile, it eliminates “low-income” and “public benefit” standards that once underlay emergency provisions. Focusing on the pre- and post-history of disaster, we show how this approach exacerbates the uneven landscapes of risk and resiliency that helped produce crisis in the first place, while potentially reproducing the conditions for future crisis. At the same time, we highlight the expanding coalitions that formed following 9/11 and Katrina to contest these inequities and envision a more just and sustainable urban future.
For information on Crisis Cities and how to order, go to Oxford University Press.

Praise for Crisis Cities

"Every urban crisis is also an opportunity, and in this penetrating study of postdisaster New York and New Orleans, Kevin Gotham and Miriam Greenberg show how and why the market-model of redevelopment does so little for the people and places that need it most. CRISIS CITIES is insightful, sophisticated, and, alas, timely. It belongs not only in the classroom, but on every mayor's desk." —Eric Klinenberg, author of Heat Wave and Going Solo

“In this wide-ranging and carefully researched book, Gotham and Greenberg explore the crisis-driven strategies of urbanization that have been pursued in two major post-disaster U.S. cities and their deeply uneven, polarizing and destructive impacts upon the social and ecological fabric. A fundamental and original analysis of early twenty-first century urban transformations in the age of disaster capitalism, this book is a superb demonstration of how the methods of critical urban studies can illuminate the powerful social, political, economic and ideological forces that are reshaping cities and regions today.”—Neil Brenner, Professor of Urban Theory, Harvard Graduate School of Design

"CRISIS CITIES is a critical revelation of the political and economic forces that direct the resources offered to cities after catastrophes. The authors clearly show how the resources are not necessarily directed to the rebuilding and recovery projects that serve all segments of the communities and would provide a successful collective future. Drawing on catastrophes in two well-known American cities the dangers of this common path are clearly presented." —Shirley Laska, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of New Orleans.

 

In related work, I have focused on the spectacular nature of urban disasters and the problems and difficulties of post-Katrina tourism rebuilding in New Orleans.These concerns are alluded to in the following papers:


 

In recent years, I have partnered with scholars in New Orleans to conduct research on the drivers of urban vulnerability and social-ecological resilience.In 2009, we received an NSF award to study the post-disaster rebuilding process, and identify feedbacks and reciprocal effects among patterns of post-trauma urbanization, ecologic al consequences and human responses.See the following link for the 2011 annual report. New Orleans – Urban Long-Term Research Area Exploratory (ULTRA-Ex) ProjectThe purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of trauma on urban ecological and social systems using the study area of post-Katrina New Orleans. Below are some of our publications.

 

In 2012, we received an NSF Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) award to focus on the management of water quality in the New Orleans region, an urban-influenced wetland hydrologic system. Government jurisdiction and property rights will be assessed and related to data on historical and current water and environmental conditions to provide baseline understanding of water quality issues in the region. The study will also use focus groups consisting of local stakeholders to collect data on the historical context and perceptions of environmental change and to inform the development of tenable policy solutions. These efforts will be supported by the formation of a working group composed of experts and community partners. The goal of the working group will be to: (1) enhance water resources data management to promote institutional management and community awareness in the proposed study area; and (2) identify key challenges and priority research areas that are most likely to offer practical solutions for water sustainability in vulnerable coastal environments. The project is titled, “WSC-Category 1: From Natural Wetland to Murky Water: Cross-disciplinary Analysis of a Drowning Urbanized Coast.”National Science Foundation, Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC). PI: Karen Johannesson; Co-PIs: Mark Davis, A.J. England, Mike Blum, Tor Tornqvist. $149,841. Funded, May 2012 – May 2014.

In 2013, we received an NSC coupled natural and human systems (CNH) award to investigate coupled feedbacks between socioecological diversity and infectious disease in post-Katrina New Orleans.The project is titled “Diversity & Disease in Post-Trauma Urban Landscapes.” National Science Foundation, Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program. $1,600,000. PI: Mike Blum; Co-PIs: Richard Campanella, Kevin Gotham, Caroline Taylor, Amy Lesen, and James Childs. Submitted November 15, 2012. Funded, September 15, 2013 – September 15- 2017.

 

Courses Taught

CCC 7010. City, Culture, and Community (CCC) Pro-Seminar I (see Fall 2013 syllabus,  Fall 2011 syllabus)
Soc. 710. Intermediate Social Theory (see Fall 2004 syllabus, Fall 2003 syllabus )
Soc. 630. Urban Policy and Planning (see Fall 2013 Syllabus,  Fall 2011 syllabus, Spring 2005 syllabus, Spring 2003 syllabus, Spring 2002 syllabus )
Soc. 610. Urban Organization (see Spring 2000 syllabus)

Soc. 322. Social Theory (see Fall 2012 Syllabus,  Fall 2010 syllabus, Fall 2009 syllabus, Fall 2008 syllabus, Spring 2005 syllabus, Fall 2004 syllabus, Spring 2003 syllabus, Spring 2002 syllabus )
Soc. 206 Urban Sociology (see Fall 2002 syllabus, Fall 2001 syllabus )



Some of my favorite web sites include:

American Sociological Association
CorpWatch
Fast Capitalism
International Sociological Association
Community and Urban Sociology
Comparative and Historical Sociology
Urban Affairs Association
Society for the Study of Social Problems


Tulane University, School of Liberal Arts, 102 Newcomb Hall, New Orleans, LA  70118, (504) 865-5225, liberalarts@tulane.edu