Description: Description: Description:

Kevin Fox Gotham

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, School of Liberal Arts (SLA)
Professor of Sociology
102 Newcomb Hall
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA  70118
Phone: (504) 862-3004
Fax: (504) 865-5544

Areas of Research and Teaching Specialty:
Urban Sociology

Sociology of Culture
Social Theory
Race and Ethnicity

Law and Public Policy

Economic Sociology
Political Sociology
Comparative-Historical Sociology

Last updated: 6/1/2012

Education Record:
Ph.D., Sociology, University of Kansas, 1997
M.A., Sociology, University of Kansas, 1992
B.A., Sociology, University of Kansas, 1990


Professional Appointments

2008-present, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, School of Liberal Arts (SLA), Tulane University

2008-present, Professor of Sociology, Tulane University

2006-2008, Program Director, National Science Foundation (NSF), Sociology, Political Science, and Law and Social Science (LSS) Programs

2003-2008, Associate Professor of Sociology, Tulane University

2004, Visiting Professor, L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France

1997-2003, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Tulane University


Research Agendas:


1. Real Estate and Housing Policy

One research agenda I have examines the linkages between housing policies, and the transformation of the real estate sector.  Several of my publications examine the segregative effect of federal housing programs, the racially discriminatory aspects of post World War II urban planning, and the negative effect of neighborhood racial composition on mortgage lending (e.g., redlining).  I have also investigated racial conflicts over federal efforts to locate low-income housing in suburban areas, the role of community identity in the emergence of a local anti-expressway movement, the negative consequences of the market-centered orientation of federal housing policy, and the impact of real estate blockbusting on neighborhood racial transition.  I have also published a series of articles with colleagues that examine the links between the built environment of public housing and the symbolic meanings that people attach to spaces in the city.  Other research I have been involved in explores the impact of city revitalization efforts and pro-growth strategies on metropolitan development and neighborhood socio-economic stability.  Some of this later research informs my edited volume on urban redevelopment, Critical Perspectives on Urban Redevelopment (Elsevier Press, 2001).  See my introduction (“Urban Redevelopment: Past and Present”) and my conclusion (Urban Redevelopment for Whom and for What Purpose: A Research Agenda for the Twenty First Century”).


My book, Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience, 1900-2000, (SUNY Press, 2002) explores the interlocking nature of racial discrimination and class factors in the origin and development of racial residential segregation.   I emphasize the importance of analyzing housing as a system of social stratification and provide a novel account of the history of the real estate industry and federal housing policy in racialization of space.  Drawing on extensive primary research, I investigate, for instance, how the leading actors within the emerging real estate industry cultivated and promulgated a segregationist ideology that linked the residential presence of blacks with neighborhood deterioration and other negative consequences.  Turning to the origin of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), I show how race and racial discrimination became institutionalized as a central component of the modern mortgage system that profoundly affected postwar suburbanization.  Later chapters focus on the segregative effect of urban renewal, school administrative actions, real estate blockbusting, and mortgage redlining.  Throughout the book, I show how real estate activities and federal housing policy have traditionally reflected an ideology of privatism that celebrates the supremacy of the "free" market and reinforces sentiments favoring social exclusion and isolation.  In the final chapter, I draw attention to the fact that while race is no longer an explicit real estate selling tool, it has become an unspoken but understood element of other seemingly non-racial factors - exclusionary zoning, gated neighborhoods, property values, and school quality - that work together to perpetuate racially segregated settlement spaces.  Click here for more information about my book. 


A closely related research interest is on the globalization of the U.S. real estate industry and, in particular, the institutional and political changes that have occurred in the financing of real estate over the last few decades.  Theoretically, I am interested in explaining how a spatially fixed commodity like real estate is transformed into a liquid security that buyers and sellers in different places can understand and exchange.  Empirically, I examine the impact of state laws, charters, and regulations in the expansion of the secondary mortgage market, the creation of the commercial mortgage-backed securities market, and the development of real estate investment trusts (REITs).  Throughout my various articles, I highlight how the state activity shapes the development of global real estate flows and networks of activity through the creation and control of liquid resources.  In several publications, I investigate the origin and demise of the New Deal housing system, examine the impact of deregulation initiatives in the 1970s and later, and analyze the development of new housing policies and financing mechanisms since the 1980s.  The production and financing of real estate and housing connect to wider economic and social processes, including transformations in the political economy of capitalism, state regulatory policy, and the political power of interest groups.  Broadly, my research examines the multi-decade restructuring of the U.S. housing finance system, and the causes and consequences of the subprime mortgage crisis.  Below is a list of my publications pertaining to real estate and housing policy. 


Suburbia Under Siege: Low-Income Housing and Racial Conflict in Metropolitan Kansas City. Sociological Spectrum. 18(4): 449-83. 1998.


Political Opportunity, Community Identity, and the Emergence of a Local Anti-Expressway Movement. Social Problems. 46(3): 332-54. August 1999.


Urban Space, Restrictive Covenants, and the Origin of Racial Residential Segregation in a U.S. City, 1900-1950. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 24(3): 616-33. September 2000.


Separate And Unequal: The Housing Act of 1968 and HUD’s Section 235 Program. Sociological Forum. 15(1): 13-37. March 2000.


A City Without Slums: Urban Renewal, Public Housing, and Downtown Revitalization in Kansas City, Missouri. American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 60(1): 285-316. January 2001 (also reprinted in City and Country. Edited by Laurence S. Moss. 2001. Blackwell (pp. 285-316)).


Abstract Space, Social Space, and the Redevelopment of Public Housing (with Jon Shefner and Krista Brumley). Pp. 313-35 in Critical Perspectives on Urban Redevelopment. Volume Six of Research in Urban Sociology. Elsevier Press. 2001.


Using Space: Agency and Identity in a Public Housing Development (with Krista Brumley). City and Community. 1(3): 267-89. Fall 2002.


Missed Opportunities, Enduring Legacies: School Segregation and Desegregation in Kansas City, Missouri. American Studies. 43 (2): 5-41. Summer 2002.


Beyond Invasion and Succession: School Segregation, Real Estate Blockbusting, and the Political Economy of Neighborhood Racial Transition. City and Community. 1(1): 83-111. Winter 2002.


Toward an Understanding the Spatiality of Urban Poverty: The Urban Poor as Spatial Actors. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 27(3): 723-37. Sept. 2003.


The Secondary Circuit of Capital Reconsidered: Globalization and the U.S. Real Estate Sector American Journal of Sociology (AJS) (July 2006).  Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). Jane Addams Award for best scholarly article in community and urban sociology (2008)


“Creating Liquidity Out of Spatial Fixity: The Secondary Circuit of Capital and the Evolving Subprime Mortgage Crisis” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR) (June 2009)


Cascading Crises: The Crisis-Policy Nexus and the Restructuring of the U.S. Housing Finance System. Critical Sociology. Fall 2011


2. Urban Culture and the Political Economy of Tourism


My book, Authentic New Orleans: Race, Culture, and Tourism in the Big Easy (New York University (NYU) Press, 2007) illuminates the interlocking nature of conflicts over race, culture, and authenticity in New Orleans and traces historically how tourism practices have displayed and articulated these conflicts.  My historical narrative spans almost two centuries and is built from archival sources, government documents, ethnographic data, and qualitative interviews.  My book begins in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina amid the whirlwind of speculation about the rebuilding of the city and the dread of outsiders wiping New Orleans clean of the charm and authenticity that made it famous.  I then examine the origins of Carnival and the Mardi Gras celebration in the nineteenth century, the planning and staging of the 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, and investigate other image-building campaigns and promotional strategies to disseminate a palatable image of New Orleans on a national scale.  In other chapters, I discuss conflicts over the commercialization of heritage and cultural difference, efforts to promote Mardi Gras as a tourist attraction, and tourism development in the French Quarter.  As I show, tourism practices have often been intertwined with notions of race and class.  The phrase “‘authentic’ New Orleans” does not mean an immutable or objective reality but refers to a plurality of socially constructed and idealized representations of the city that residents, organizations, and tourism boosters have constructed over the decades.  Like all constructions of reality, the term “authentic” New Orleans is a malleable, fabricated, and heterogeneous category that different groups use to define urban culture, create and express identities, and reinterpret the past.  Like the terms “place” and “culture,” authenticity is deceptively slippery and often taken as a historically given in New Orleans.  As my book documents, symbols and framings of “authentic” New Orleans have always been in flux and transformation.  On the one hand, I analyze the social construction of “authentic” New Orleans as a conflictual and contested process by which different groups and interests struggle to legitimate their own collective beliefs and values as authoritative representations of local culture.  On the other hand, I analyze “authentic” New Orleans as a manufactured image, whereby powerful tourism interests project onto local culture what they believe are tourists’ expectations, preferences, stereotyped images of the city.  Overall, the purpose of my book is to understand and explain the ways in which local people have defined authenticity over time, the role of power and conflict in the construction of the authentic, and various historically changing ways tourism practices have shaped and (re)defined what is authentic.  I also discuss related topics and themes in the articles below. 


Marketing Mardi Gras: Commodification, Spectacle, and the Political Economy of Tourism in New Orleans. Urban Studies. 39(10): 1735-56. September 2002.


Tourism From Above and Below: Globalization, Localization, and New Orleans’s Mardi Gras. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 29(2).  June 2005.


Theorizing Urban Spectacles: Festivals, Tourism, and the Transformation of Urban Space. City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action. 9(2). July 2005.


Tourism Gentrification: The Case of New Orleans’s Vieux Carre (French Quarter). Urban Studies. 42(7): 1099-1121. June 2005.


“Neoliberal Revitalization: Prison Building, Casinos, and Tourism in Louisiana” (with Jeannie Haubert). Chapter 1 in Urban Communication: Production, Text, Context. Edited by Tim Gibson and Mark Lowes. Rowman and Littlefield. 2006.


Destination New Orleans: Commodification, Rationalization, and the Rise of Urban Tourism. Journal of Consumer Culture. 7(3). November 2007.


Contrasts of Carnival: Mardi Gras Between the Modern and Postmodern. Illuminating Social Life (4th edition). Edited by Peter Kivisto. Pine Forge Press. 2007.


Ethnic Heritage Tourism and Global-Local Connections in New Orleans. Tourism, Ethnic Diversity and the City. Edited by Jan Rath. 2007. Routledge.


Selling New Orleans To New Orleans: Tourism Authenticity and the Construction of Community Identity. Tourist Studies. 7(3): 317-339. 2007.


From Culture Industry to the Society of the Spectacle: Critical Theory and the Situationist International. (Co-authored with Dan Krier). No Social Science Without Critical Theory. Edited by Harry Dahms. Current Perspectives in Social Theory. 2008. Vol. 25. 


Tourism and Culture. Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology. Edited by John Hall, Ming-Cheng Lo, and Laura Grindstaff.  London: Routledge. 2010. 


“Resisting Urban Spectacle: The 1984 Louisiana Exposition and the Contradictions of Mega Events.” Urban Studies. 48(1) 197–214, January 2011.


"Reconstructing the Big Easy: Racial Heritage Tourism in New Orleans." Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events. Volume 3, Number 2. Fall 2011. 


"Theorizing Carnival: Mardi Gras as Perceived, Conceived, and Lived Space" Alienation and the Carnivalization of Society. Edited by Jerome Braun and Lauren Langman.  New York and London: Routledge. 2012.


Make It Right? Brad Pitt, Post-Katrina Rebuilding, and the Spectacularization of Disaster” in Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times. Edited by Sarah Banet-Weiser and Roopali Mukherjee.  New York University (NYU) Press, February 2012.


3. Post-disaster Rebuilding, Resilience, and Sustainable Development


At present, I am working with Miriam Greenberg (Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz) on a comparative historical analysis of the political, economic, and cultural effects of the recovery and rebuilding process in New York and New Orleans following the 9/11 disaster and devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.  Our goal is to identify similarities and differences in the organization and influence of public-private coalitions, urban branding strategies, and federal-local connections in the recovery and rebuilding phases of both cities.  We examine the two cities’ vulnerability to disasters, divergences in the depth and longevity of the post-disaster crises, the problems of limitations of the market-centered policy making as applied to urban rebuilding, and variations in the organization of urban rebranding campaigns in the two cities.  In related work, I  have focused on the spectacular nature of urban disasters and the problems and difficulties of post-Katrina tourism rebuilding in New Orleans.  These concerns are alluded to in the following papers:


“(Re)Branding the Big Easy: Tourism Rebuilding in Post-Katrina New Orleans” in Urban Affairs Review (July 2007)


“Fast Spectacle: Reflections on Hurricane Katrina and the Contradictions of Spectacle” in Fast Capitalism (Fall 2007; Vol. 2, No. 20). 


Critical Theory and Katrina: Disaster, Spectacle, and Immanent Critique.” City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action. 11(1): 81-99. April 2007.


“From 9/11 to 8/29: Post-Disaster Recovery and Rebuilding in New York and New Orleans” (co-authored with Miriam Greenberg) in Social Forces (December 2008) 


"Toward a Research Agenda on Transformative Resilience: Challenges and Opportunities for Urban Ecosystems" (with Richard Campanella).  Critical Planning. Volume 17, Simmer 2010.


"Reconsidering the New Normal: Vulnerability and Resilience in Post-Katrina New Orleans" (Kevin Fox Gotham, Richard Campanella, Josh Lewis, Farrah Gafford, Earthea Nance, Mallikharjuna R. Avula). Global Horizons: The Journal of Global Policy and Resilience. 2011.


“Coupled Vulnerability and Resilience: The Dynamics of Cross-Scale Interactions in Post-Katrina New Orleans” (with Richard Campanella).  Ecology and Society 16 (3): 12. 2011.


In recent years, I have partnered with scholars in New Orleans to conduct research on the drivers of urban vulnerability and social-ecological resilience.  In 2009, we received an NSF award to study the post-disaster rebuilding process, and identify feedbacks and reciprocal effects among patterns of post-trauma urbanization, ecologic al consequences and human responses.  See the following link for the 2011 annual report.  New Orleans – Urban Long-Term Research Area Exploratory (ULTRA-Ex) Project.  The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of trauma on urban ecological and social systems using the study area of post-Katrina New Orleans. We have two major research objectives.  First, we are using geographic information systems (GIS) for data collection, analysis, modeling, and synthesis. The data collection and analysis are conducted at multiple scales ranging from all of New Orleans (Orleans Parish), analyzed at the block, block group, and census tract levels, and supplemented with three neighborhood-level case studies within New Orleans.  Second, team members have been organizing a network of scholars and practitioners to exchange experience and knowledge and thereby increase understanding of the complex interactions and connections among trauma, human actions, and urban ecosystems.   Our goal is to address the feedbacks and reciprocal effects among trauma and human actions to advance both fundamental and applied knowledge regarding people and urban ecosystems. In doing so, we measure not only ecological variables (e.g., ecological diversity, land cover, and spatial heterogeneity) and human variables (socio-economic processes, demographic structure, and settlement patterns) but also variables that connect natural and human ecosystems (resilience, land-use patterns, and human impact). By using interdisciplinary perspectives and a diversity of methods and approaches, we are in a position to better understand the interconnections of landscape alterations, institutional transformation, and ecosystem development.


In 2012, we received another NSF award to focus on the management of water quality in the New Orleans region, an urban-influenced wetland hydrologic system. Government jurisdiction and property rights will be assessed and related to data on historical and current water and environmental conditions to provide baseline understanding of water quality issues in the region. The study will also use focus groups consisting of local stakeholders to collect data on the historical context and perceptions of environmental change and to inform the development of tenable policy solutions. These efforts will be supported by the formation of a working group composed of experts and community partners. The goal of the working group will be to: (1) enhance water resources data management to promote institutional management and community awareness in the proposed study area; and (2) identify key challenges and priority research areas that are most likely to offer practical solutions for water sustainability in vulnerable coastal environments.


Courses Taught
CCC 7010. City, Culture, and Community (CCC) Pro-Seminar I (see Fall 2011)

Soc. 710. Intermediate Social Theory (see Fall 2004 syllabus ) (see Fall 2003 syllabus )
Soc. 630. Urban Policy and Planning (see Fall 2011 syllabus, Spring 2005 syllabus, Spring 2003 syllabus, Spring 2002 syllabus )
Soc. 610. Urban Organization (see Spring 2000 syllabus)
Soc. 322. Social Theory (see Fall 2010 syllabus, Fall 2009 syllabus, Fall 2008 syllabus, Spring 2005 syllabus, Fall 2004 syllabus, Spring 2003 syllabus, Spring 2002 syllabus )
Soc. 206 Urban Sociology (see Fall 2002 syllabus, Fall 2001 syllabus )

Some of my favorite web sites include:

American Sociological Association
Fast Capitalism
International Sociological Association
Community and Urban Sociology
Comparative and Historical Sociology
Urban Affairs Association
Society for the Study of Social Problems