Trisha Barua is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies at University of California, Davis. Her dissertation project, “Utopic Oakland: Representations of Racial and Political Futurity, 1999-2015,” examines representations of contemporary Oakland, California, as a city where the possibilities of progressive social change are perpetually contested. She deploys representation’s dual meanings by examining depictions of the city through select cultural objects alongside what it means to claim ownership in defining or belonging to Oakland. Her project assembles a kaleidoscopic portrait of Oakland that renders racial and political formations as multiple and unstable.

Alex Werth is a doctoral candidate in Geography at UC Berkeley.  His research looks at the history and contemporary politics of race, citizenship, and planning in Oakland.  In particular, it focuses on racialization as an unstable but durable link between liberal forms of government and illiberal forms of state violence.  With a background in urban studies and critical race theory, and experience working in affordable housing and urban development in the Bay Area, he brings to the group both a practical and theoretical knowledge of the technologies of planning; the cultural politics of racism and racialization; and the production of space.

Faculty PI

Susette Min is an Associate Professor in Asian American Studies at UC Davis. She teaches and writes about modern and contemporary art history, curatorial studies, Asian American Studies, ethnic American literature, and cultural studies. Formerly, she was the Curator of Contemporary Art at The Drawing Center in NYC. She has curated and managed exhibitions at the Asia Society, Berkeley Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Barnsdall Art Center, Painted Bride Art Center, Troy Arts Center, and the Los Angeles Center of Photography. She is also the Arts Editor of the journal Social Text and the North American Editor for Asian Diasporic Visual Culture and the Americas (ADVA). She is currently working on a curatorial project that engages site-specificity and community art making in Oakland.



Jeanelle Hope is a doctoral student in Cultural Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her current research centers on Afro-Asian activism and solidarity during the Black Power era in the San Francisco Bay Area with a focus on gender politics and poetry. Her broader research interests include transnational feminism, Black queer theory, Blacks in the U.S. west, and African American women’s history.

Savannah J. Kilner is a doctoral student in Gender Studies at UCLA. Her dissertation, “Pride and Property: Queer Settler Colonialism and the Landed Politics of Solidarity,” examines how practices and imaginings of queer space interact with multiple, overlapping modes of dispossession in the U.S. colonial present. Her fields of interest include gender and sexuality studies, Indigenous studies, urban geography, Black studies, and critical ethnic studies.Raised in the Bay Area, she is a member of the Solidarity Board of Homefulness, a poor people-led model of housing justice in Ohlone territory/Oakland, CA.

Allison Logan is a doctoral student in the sociology department at UC Berkeley. Her research interests include urban development and transformation, neighborhood and spatial inequality, and social marginality. Allison is interested in understanding how the unique racial, geographic, political, and cultural history of Oakland shape its relationship to these processes and their effects on different social groups.

Eli Marienthal is a doctoral candidate in Geography at UC Berkeley, as well as a poet and performance artist. His dissertation weaves together ethnography, autoethnography, creative writing, and critical theory to address in a performative mode the ensemble of social, spatial and cultural changes cumulatively represented under the sign of gentrification.  A native of Berkeley, he brings to the group a lifelong history of engagement with local performance groups focused on youth and social justice.

Erin McElroy is a doctoral student in Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is studying different enactments of dispossession, speculation, and dematerialization in the San Francisco Bay Area in the wake of the Tech Boom. Erin also directs the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a data visualization, data analysis, and digital storytelling collective documenting the displacement of Bay Area residents by engaging methods of participatory action research and mutual aid.

Andrea Miller is a doctoral student in Cultural Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research explores the relationship between preemptive governance in the US war on terror, racialization, and the expansion of incitement to violence rhetoric in domestic policing, surveillance, and everyday discourse. Her current project is specifically interested in examining surveillance and policing practices in Oakland, CA, as they connect to preemptive logics of UScounterterrorism and drone warfare.

Dorie Dakin Perez is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Humanities graduate program at the University of California, Merced. Her research centers on the cultural meaning-making of urban space and the political anthropology of public policy as a tool for cultural change. In her previous career as a political aide, she worked for the California State Legislature and the Oakland City Council in Oakland, CA. She is a 2015-2016 graduate fellow for the Center for the Humanities at UC Merced.

Magie Ramírez is a doctoral candidate in Geography at the University of Washington. Her dissertation research looks at the role of art in social justice movements in Oakland, and how art is being used by art-activists of color to resist displacement and (re)claim place. Her previous research-activism looked at how a black-led food justice project in Seattle used food to re-inscribe black geographies into a gentrifying Seattle landscape. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Magie returned to Oakland in 2014 to conduct her dissertation research, and will bring additional community resources and connections to the UC-based working group.

Divya Sundar is a doctoral student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. She is interested in the cultural and body politics of urban safety vis-a-vis  historical geographies of racial slavery and settler colonialism. Her previous research examined the liberal multicultural attachments and investments that animate mainstream anti-gentrification discourses of San Francisco. Her fields of interest include postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, black studies, and critical ethnic studies.

Claire Urbanski is a doctoral student in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, studying settler coloniality. Her research looks at historical and ongoing acts of grave theft and the attendant exhibition of exhumed bodies in museum sites as both foundational to and facilitating contemporary forms of racialized social death (such as policing, mass incarceration, dispossession, and gentrification). She also organizes around prison abolition and participates in growing creative strategies to respond to intimate violence in ways that don’t rely upon or reproduce the state.