Our Mission

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.

Our Work

Housing Justice
Unequal Cities

Marginalized communities around the world face repeated displacement and evictions. Our research sheds light on geographies of exclusion and pays attention to histories of dispossession. Working with social movements, we seek to build organizing frameworks and policy strategies for housing justice. Focusing on Los Angeles, and connecting the U.S. experience to Brazil, India, South Africa, and Spain, we have convened a global research network on Housing Justice in Unequal Cities.

Debt and
Predatory Financialization

In the United States, working-class and middle-class households are burdened with pervasive debt to pay for basic needs, from health to education.  Our research situates debt in the global context of predatory financialization and shows how debt works as a form of economic extraction. Our intent is to build platforms of knowledge and action that expose and dismantle debt peonage.


The criminalization of poverty is a persistent feature of liberal democracies. We are concerned with public investment in carcerality, be it the juvenile justice system or municipal ordinances targeting the poor. Through research, performance art, and radical pedagogy, we examine structures of incarceration in Los Angeles and seek to abolish the racialized policing of black, brown, and indigenous communities.


As we tackle systems of inequality in the world around us, so must we confront and challenge the power-laden relationships through which academic knowledge is produced and disseminated.  Acutely aware of our location in an elite university, we aim to conduct research that is accountable to marginalized communities, that is in close alliance with poor people’s movements, and that has a firm commitment to critical theory.

Our People


Institute Director




Associate Faculty Director


World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Featured Project

  • The Housing Justice in #UnequalCities Network is funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS 1758774) and brings together research communities whose work analyzes key geographies of housing precarity (evictions, homelessness, displacement, segregation, informal settlements) and examines established and emergent practices of housing justice (eviction blockades, community land trusts, housing cooperatives and commons, tenant organizing, homeless unions, social rent, land value tax). In doing so, it consolidates housing justice as a field of inquiry and sets the stage for future research in geography and urban studies. With partners in Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S., the Network aims to bring together organizations, individuals, and ideas around creating housing access and housing justice through legal frameworks, cooperative models of land and housing, and community organizing. Learn more.

SIGN UP >> Join the Network if you would like to receive housing justice reports and updates about community action and events.

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