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.
Acutely aware of the dispossession and displacement wrought by structures of global racial capitalism, our research and scholarship insists upon housing justice. Thinking from LA, as well as other key global nodes of struggle, we expose the modes of capitalist ownership and state-owned violence that produce housing insecurity. Taking our cue from movements led by those excluded from regimes of property ownership, we seek to enact a radical rethinking of housing from financialized commodity to reparative public good.
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.
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.
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.
Associate Faculty Director
Associate Faculty Director
ROBIN D.G. KELLEY