• Research & Programs


The research and programs of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy are guided by our commitment to organize knowledge to challenge inequality. We focus on key sites of struggle within and against racial capitalism: housing, land, and property; money and finance; and migration and border regimes. In keeping with our commitment to research justice, we undertake such work through a transformation of the university, remaking the protocols of knowledge-making and pedagogy.


In the face of market-led and state-organized housing precarity, we insist upon housing justice. Thinking from Los Angeles, and other key global nodes of insurgency, our research and scholarship reveals the actors, systems, and institutions that perpetuate housing exploitation. Working with tenant movements and unhoused communities, we aim to dismantle police-property relations and reconstruct housing as a reparative public good.


Exploitative financial relationships and endless growth subtend trans/national inequities including racial capitalism, imperialism, settler colonialism, 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. Future of Finance convenes public programs, sustains scholar-practitioner-activist collaborations, and produces multimedia output including academic publications, films, OpEds, materials for political education, and more.


Situated at the present moment of resurgent white nationalism and xenophobia, Sanctuary Spaces: Reworlding Humanism, 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, this project thinks across Europe and the United States to interrogate Western humanism and foreground alternative frameworks of freedom and justice.


The UCLA Activist-in-Residence program seeks to strengthen the infrastructure of social transformation by supporting local movement leaders, community organizers, and artists with university resources. Conceptualized as a sabbatical, the residency allows for time and space to reflect upon complex challenges, envision new campaigns and projects, and connect with university faculty, students, and staff. This program provides opportunities for activists to engage with the UCLA community to develop and strengthen their capabilities, work, and commitment towards social justice.

Josiah Edwards

2023 UCLA Activist-in-Residence

Leonardo Vilchis

2020 UCLA Activist-in-Residence

Funmilola Fagbamila

2017 UCLA Activist-in-Residence


The UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy invites proposals from UCLA faculty for grants to support research and pedagogy related to the Institute’s key research themes. We are especially interested in research, scholarship, and/or teaching that demonstrates how “organizing knowledge” can challenge established academic wisdom, contribute to public debate, and/or build power for communities and movements.

YOU ARE HERE – a homebound travelogue

Marike Splint, Theater, Film and Television, UCLA

UC Extreme Sentencing Project

Grace K. Hong, Gender Studies & Asian American Studies, UCLA

Carceral Liberation? A Native American Prison Art Show

Tria Blu Wakpa, World Arts and Cultures/Dance, UCLA


With support from the Institute, graduate students from disciplines across UCLA’s campus contribute to developing, discussing, and applying methodologies that refuse extractive and exploitative research and seek to create a space of collective inquiry.

Graduate Student Capstone Projects

Graduate Student Working Groups

Inequality and Democracy Research Fellowship