Our Mission

The UCLA Luskin 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


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.

Future of

Exploitative financial relationships subtend trans/national inequities including racial capitalism, imperialism, settler colonialism, neocolonialism, and climate catastrophe. Other worlds are possible, and they will require other financial systems, institutions, and relationships. With scholars from social movements and academia, we bring together knowledge producers committed to theorizing and enacting these worlds.

Policing and

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.


Situated at the present historical moment of resurgent white nationalism and xenophobia, Sanctuary Spaces, a Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar, is concerned with the place of racial others–the border-crosser, the asylum-seeker, the refugee–in liberal democracy. With a critical lens around histories of colonial dispossession and racial capitalism, the project thinks across Europe and the U.S. to interrogate Western humanism and foreground alternative frameworks of freedom and justice.

Our Methodology

Decolonizing the University: We root our work in abolitionist and decolonial traditions of thought that refuse extractive and exploitative research and instead build forms of knowledge accountable to movements and communities on the frontlines of struggle. The public university we seek to create is a space of collective inquiry committed to reparation, redress, and the futurity of radical democracy.

Our People


Institute Director




Associate Faculty Director


World Arts and Cultures/Dance

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