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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Institute on Inequality and Democracy advances radical democracy in an unequal world through research, critical thought, and alliances with social movements and racial justice activism. We analyze and transform the divides and dispossessions of our times, in the university and in our cities, across global South and global North.

Institute on Inequality and Democracy

There are 7 publications in this collection, published between 2017 and 2020.
Publications (7)

The Power of Debt: Identity and Collective Action in the Age of Finance

The Debt Collective is organized around the possibility for radical action within and against finance capitalism. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis it was often hard to understand how finance intersected with the everyday lives of ordinary—and especially, poor—people. But in the years since, it has become increasingly clear that mass indebtedness—from the mortgage crisis to student debt, criminal “justice” fines and fees to municipal austerity—is a direct effect of the conflict between debt payments generating value as securitized investments (mortgage backed securities, municipal bond offerings) vs. their role in providing shelter, food, and the ability to merely get by. In the age of finance, debt has become an immersive, systemic problem; but it is one that, in its ubiquity, may hold the seeds of its own solutions. As oil tycoon JP Getty famously quipped: “If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” Student debt alone stands today at 1.5 trillion dollars. Together, arguably, we can be the banks’ problem. This is the provocation of the Debt Collective: how can we reframe debt from an issue of isolation and shame to a platform for collective action and political mobilization?

Black, Brown, and Powerful: Freedom Dreams in Unequal Cities

In April 2018, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy convened scholars, activists, policy advocates, community residents, and nonprofit workers to share and discuss research and action pertaining to processes of inequality in Los Angeles. We sought to shed light on the entangled structures of oppression, including urban displacement, housing precarity, racialized policing, criminal justice debt, forced labor, and the mass supervision and control of youth. Through keynote talks, group dialogue, and workshops, we analyzed how in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, black and brown communities face multiple forms of banishment and exploitation ranging from the criminalization of poverty to institutionalized theft.

The question of racial banishment has been an important one for the Institute since its inauguration two years ago. This year though, amidst the troubled times of Trumpism, we wanted to shift our focus from banishment to freedom. In the reports that follow, you will find many examples of what Robin D.G. Kelley, a key presence at the Institute, has famously called “freedom dreams.” Located in, and thinking from South Central Los Angeles, the event’s participants provide insight into organizing frameworks and resistance strategies that challenge exclusion and refuse subordination. From tenant organizing to debtors’ unions, from underground scholars to educational reparations, visions of freedom abound. The Institute on Inequality and Democracy is convinced that university-based research can, and must, support such freedom dreams. Such partnership – between the public university and social justice movements – requires careful attention to the difficult task of decolonizing the university. This mandate is evident throughout this collection of reports. There is no easy alliance between academic power and banished communities; there is no obvious solidarity between urban plans and freedom dreams. This event was intended to be a step towards building such alliances, especially by reconstructing the curriculum and canon of knowledge.

Metodologías para la justicia de la vivienda: Guia de recursos

Esta Guía de Recursos es el resultado de un Instituto de Verano sobre Metodologías para la Justicia en la Vivienda convocado por el Instituto sobre Desigualdad y Democracia de UCLA Luskin como parte de la Red de Justicia en la Vivienda en Ciudades Desiguales, que es apoyada por la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias (BCS 1758774). Celebrado en Los Ángeles en agosto de 2019, el Instituto de Verano reunió a participantes de ciudades de todo el mundo. Al igual que el alcance y el propósito general de la Red de Justicia en las Ciudades Desiguales, creó un terreno compartido de para estudiosos del movimiento y académicos de universidades. Con una insatisfacción a los métodos canónicos que se utilizan en los estudios sobre la vivienda y guiado por los movimientos de justicia de la vivienda que son comunidades de investigación activa, el Instituto de verano se basó en la afirmación de que la metodología es política. La metodología se basa en argumentos sobre el mundo e implica relaciones de poder y conocimiento. El método por sí mismo -ya sea el contra ataque al mapeo o los diarios de la genteno asegura una ética de solidaridad y un propósito de justicia. Tales objetivos requieren metodologías para la liberación. Por lo tanto, como es evidente en esta Guía de Recursos, nuestro esfuerzo pone en primer plano los métodos innovadores que están siendo utilizados por los investigadores en todo el mundo académico y el activismo y sitúa explícitamente tales métodos en una orientación hacia la vivienda la justicia.

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