Identity, contingency and the urban geography of 'race'
Traditional research in urban geography concerned with issues of 'race' has focused on a series of substantively important issues, yet with conceptual foundation inadequate to the task. Specifically, this body of work has employed outdated and theoretically limited conceptions of identity without sufficient consideration to the importance of historical and geographic contingency. I argue in this essay that topics of traditional concern to urban geography gain new relevance and importance when they are reconsidered and reworked from a social constructivist perspective that takes seriously the importance of identity and contingency. I illustrate my argument with discussions of two aspects of my current research agenda. First, I discuss how research on urban residential segregation gains considerably from a more sensitive encounter with multifaceted notions of identity that explicitly address geographic contingency. Second, I review recent empirical research on US mortgage-lending markets that demonstrates the geographic and class contingency of discrimination. The paper ends with a call for research that employs multiple methodologies.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Publication date: 2000-12-01