Adrienne Brown will present an overview of her new project, which traces how theories about ownership as a racialized capacity shaped the history of real estate and redlining in the age of mass homeownership. She brings this work into conversation with the afterlives of “40 acres and a mule” in the 1930s via W.E.B. Du Bois and Richard Wright, which is the subject of her essay “Reconstruction’s Breadth” in the field guide to the current exhibition at MoMA, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America.
Adrienne Brown is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago and specializes in American and African American cultural production in the twentieth century, with an emphasis on the history of perception as shaped by the built environment. Her teaching and research interests include critical race studies, architecture and urban studies, the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances, popular culture, and sound studies. With Valerie Smith, Adrienne co-edited the volume Race and Real Estate, an interdisciplinary collection rethinking narratives of property and citizenship. Her book, The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race recovers the skyscraper’s drastic effects not only on the shape of the city but the racial sensorium of its residents. She is currently working on a new book that charts how the impact of the U.S.’s move to mass homeownership in the 20th century impacted Americans’ experience of residential space as a social, spatial, and, most significantly, a racial unit.