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Social Anthropology

Minkyoung Kim

Thesis title

Race and class relations and spatiality: black middle class neighbourhood, Hamlin Park in an inner city of Buffalo, New York

Research project description

In the US, race is one of the most important factors that determines one’s political, social, and cultural life. It also informs everyday personal experience and inner self-identity.

Race, as a social construct based on one’s physical figure, can hardly be separated from the idea of class that is equally important but less acknowledged in discussion of African American experience in the US.

I have taken Hamlin Park as the focus for my research - an inner-city black middle-class neighbourhood in the East Side which is a de facto racially segregated area and broadly considered to be the poorest and most dangerous in the city of Buffalo.

My research maps the spatial dimension of ongoing socio-cultural transformation of race and class amongst the black middle-class residents who choose to live in an inner city area despite being able to afford to live out in the suburbs.

Many sociologists either victimise inner city blacks, labelling their location as unfortunate and their situation at best problematic in relation to extreme poverty and urban decay as a whole. Alternatively, they focus on the black middles class who have moved out to the suburbs to examine their racial identity dismissal and confusion.

In contrast, my research builds on the work of other anthropologists and explores the agentive ways in which the black middle-class in an inner city neighbourhood construct and claim their own understandings of racial identity, middle-classness and solidarity through claiming their right to the neighbourhood.

Research interests

Race and class relations, urban anthropology, inner city debate and suburbanisation in the US, racial solidarity, black middle-class, black masculinity, racial segregation and integration, African diaspora, Henri Lefebvre.

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