Defining Community and Claim-Making: Gentrification, Mixed Income Public School Districts, and Educational Equity.
Ujju Aggarwal

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



City University of New York Graduate Center

Primary Discipline

This study will use a mixed methods approach to examine what occurs when public schools within one urban school district experience both a reinvestment from middle-class families and retention of low-income families. The site of this study is one of the most economically and racially diverse school districts in the nation’s largest school system and yet, one of the most segregated and unequal. Choice policies heavily dictate the admissions processes to public elementary schools in the district. Given the district’s significant public housing stock, some low-income families will stay. In the after-life of gentrification, as parents of different backgrounds increasingly encounter one another to negotiate the shared resource of public schools, what political subjectivities become articulated, and to what end? The aim of this study is to answer this question by examining: 1) the ways that schools become critical sites through which definitions of community and kin networks are developed, negotiated, and produced; 2) to what extent and to what ends these concepts are mobilized by parents of different backgrounds in making claims to urban space and to public sector goods such as public education; and 3) the implications of these claims to educational equity.
About Ujju Aggarwal
Ujju Aggarwal is a cultural anthropologist and a Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research examines how “choice,” as a key principle of reform and management in education, emerged in the post-Civil Rights era, and became central to how rights, freedom, and citizenship were imagined, structured, and constrained. Her current research takes a closer look at schools in relationship to gentrification and the production of urban space. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, The New School, Hunter College, and the Educational Opportunities Center (SUNY). Her research has been published in edited volumes as well as scholarly journals including Transforming Anthropology, Scholar & Feminist Online, and Educational Policy. She is completing her manuscript, The Color of Choice: Race, Rights, and Inequality in Education.

Pin It on Pinterest