• About the Institute

    Organizing Knowledge to Challenge Inequality

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.

SCOPE & PURPOSE

In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote that “the function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools, or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization.”  For Du Bois, the problem of the 20th century was “the problem of the color-line.” It is knowledge of the color-line, and action against it, that formed his life’s work, both in the university and in the world.

Drawing inspiration from Du Bois and other black radical and postcolonial thinkers, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin aims to understand and transform the divides and dispossessions, the color-lines, of the 21st century. At a time of unprecedented income inequality in the United States, we join the growing effort for rigorous analysis of the processes through which such inequality has been produced, that recognizes the corrosive effects of the warehousing of wealth and power on civic life, and that seeks to undo such inequality through new frameworks of redistribution and democratic politics.

In such work, we think across North and South. Instead of the United States as the intellectual pivot of our work, we forge lines of inquiry that take serious notice of the postcolonial world, notably democracies shaped by the claims and demands of poor majorities. Drawing on ideas and practices produced in the unequal cities of India, Brazil, and South Africa, we return to the North Atlantic to examine and dismantle economic austerity and entrenched segregation.

Our research, theory, and pedagogy are produced in the context of resurgent right-wing nationalism, both in the United States and in many other parts of the world. In the age of Trumpism, we have renewed our commitment to challenge white racial domination and build black and brown power.

The University of California is an especially propitious home for our institute. Like liberal democracy itself, the public university at once bears the promise of inclusion and manifests the persistence of exclusion.  The public university has an intimate relationship with the “real life” of which Du Bois wrote, and we believe that this intimacy generates a responsibility for public affairs and an impulse to educate a next generation for whom citizenry is not an enclave of privilege but rather shared and collective existence amidst difference.

CORE TEAM

Ananya Roy

Founding Director

Email: ananya@luskin.ucla.edu
Twitter: @ananyaUCLA

Bio

Ananya Roy is Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare and Geography and inaugural Director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. She holds The Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy. Previously she was on the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, where she founded and played a leadership role in several academic programs including those concerned with poverty research and poverty action.

Ananya’s research and scholarship has a determined focus on poverty and inequality and lies in four domains: how the urban poor in cities from Kolkata to Chicago face and fight eviction, foreclosure, and displacement; how global financialization, working in varied realms from microfinance to real-estate speculation, creates new markets in debt and risk; how the efforts to manage and govern the problem of poverty reveal the contradictions and limits of liberal democracy; how economic prosperity and aspiration in the global South is creating new potentialities for programs of human development and social welfare.

Ananya is the recipient of several awards including the Paul Davidoff book award, which recognizes scholarship that advances social justice, for Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development (Routledge, 2010); the Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching recognition that the University of California, Berkeley bestows on its faculty; and the Excellence in Achievement award of the Cal Alumni Association, a lifetime achievement award which celebrates her contributions to the University of California and public sphere.

Visit Ananya Roy’s website

Marisa Lemorande

Deputy Director

Email: mlemorande@luskin.ucla.edu
Phone: (310) 267-5403

Bio

Marisa Lemorande is Deputy Director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. Marisa brings to the Institute many years of experience working with nonprofit, community, and cultural organizations concerned with social justice. By building robust alliances and developing effective communications and fundraising strategies, Marisa has shown leadership and creativity in supporting activists, artists, and scholars, both in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California. A graduate of UCLA, Marisa has served as Program Manager of the UCLA Center for Culture and Health. In this capacity, she managed large federally funded projects, including one of the most diverse and successful programs the NIH has supported over a 25-year grant cycle. Most recently, Marisa held the position of Director of Alumni Relations and Social Media for the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. In this role, she implemented a dramatic expansion of the school’s alumni networks and led the most successful crowdfunding campaign in UCLA’s history. Marisa joins the Institute with a sharp analysis of socio-spatial inequality and a passion for community outreach, public scholarship, and policy advocacy. 

Cristina Barrera

Communications & Program Manager

Email: cbarrera@luskin.ucla.edu
Phone: (310) 267-5401

Bio

Cristina graduated from UCLA where she double majored in English and Chicana/o Studies and minored in Labor and Workplace Studies. As a student, she helped produce the book project Undocumented and Unafraidat the UCLA Labor Center. She has years of experience working on legislation and marketing efforts for a City of Los Angeles Councilmember. Most recently, she served as a writer and editor for a nationally distributed magazine. Cristina has worked with several nonprofits on issues ranging from poverty and community development to health care and education and was a founding member of Youth Speak Collective, an organization serving the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

AFFILIATED FACULTY & RESEARCHERS

Laura Abrams

Social Welfare

Faculty Advisory Board

Randall Akee

Public Policy

Faculty Researcher

Hannah Appel

Anthropology

Faculty Advisory Board

Cesar Ayala

Sociology

Faculty Researcher

Bryonn Bain

African American Studies

Faculty Researcher

Andrés Carrasquillo

Urban Planning

Graduate Student Researcher

Caroline Ford

History

Faculty Researcher

Dan Froot

World Arts & Culture/Dance

Faculty Advisory Board

Terra Graziani

Urban Planning

Graduate Student Researcher

Akhil Gupta

History

Faculty Advisory Board

Ian W. Holloway

Social Welfare

Faculty Advisory Board

Gaye Theresa Johnson

African American Studies & Chicana/o Studies

Faculty Advisory Board

Robin D.G. Kelley

History

Faculty Advisory Board

Helga Leitner

Geography

Faculty Advisory Board

Michael Lens

Urban Planning

Faculty Researcher

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

Urban Planning

Faculty Advisory Board

Kelly Lytle-Hernandez

African American Studies & History

Faculty Researcher

Hilary Malson

Urban & Regional Planning

Graduate Student Researcher

Paavo Monkkonen

Urban Planning

Faculty Researcher

Pedro Noguera

Education and Information Studies

Faculty Advisory Board

Paul Ong

Urban Planning & Asian American Studies

Faculty Researcher

Amy Ritterbusch

Social Welfare

Faculty Researcher

Eric Sheppard

Geography

Faculty Advisory Board

Marike Splint

Theater, Film & Television

Faculty Researcher

Chris Tilly

Urban Planning

Faculty Advisory Board

Alicia Virani

Law

Faculty Researcher

Edward Walker

Sociology

Faculty Advisory Board

Wes Yin

Public Policy

Faculty Advisory Board

Noah D. Zatz

Law

Faculty Researcher