I am broadly concerned with the relationship between political boundaries in metropolitan areas and racism, defined as inequality among socially constructed categories called races.
Political boundaries help create material inequalities by limiting access to public resources like schools, influencing the value of property, and defining obligations to pay taxes and entitlements to receive services. But they also reflect and reinforce symbolic inequalities, making some metropolitan residents more able to influence decisions that affect them, some metropolitan jurisdictions more affluent, attractive, or respected, and some groups of citizens more esteemed as citizens.
For this reason, political boundaries are not just vestiges of old patterns of racism. They work to preserve and extend racial inequalities and to recreate races as significant social categories, even in a supposedly post-racial age.
My current research project explores these concerns through a study of the movement by residents of several of Atlanta’s affluent northern suburbs to secede from Fulton County. Parts of this project and earlier research have been published as journal articles.