Staying Power (Erin Lilli)

Staying Power (Erin Lilli)

Erin is a PhD Candidate in Environmental Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her dissertation work, tentatively titled Staying Power: the Black struggle for home and place in Crown Heights, develops from the overlapping discourses of gentrification and racialized housing through a study of residential oral histories among Black residents in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights.  Using racial capitalism as a theoretical framework and drawing on histories within the Black Radical Tradition, Erin seeks to position gentrification, and concomitant forms of neoliberalism, as something more antagonistic and thoroughly political. In other words, to frame the process of gentrification as a recurrent historical moment within a racialized (and now) financialized capitalist system acting to keep people of color subordinate to a continually reconstituted white dominance.

Through utilizing qualitative methods with residential oral histories and participant observation; archival research on real estate policy and practices, local community groups, and local history; and quantitative analysis of ownership and rental patterns – Erin attempts to answer two main questions: 1) Are Crown Heights’ Black residents experiencing dispossession from their homes for the benefit of real estate capital and redevelopment? and 2) In Crown Heights, what forms of everyday resistance are employed by Black residents to confront threats of displacement and housing instability?

Additionally, Erin will analyze interview data in conversation with literature on the psychological and emotional attachments to place and the concept ontological security as she contends that racial capitalism serves to repeatedly disrupt these senses of home.


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