Dr. Brandi Summers (on leave until Fall 2019)

Dr. Brandi Summers

Assistant Professor
(804) 828-9349

On leave until Fall 2019


Ph.D. (2014) in Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Biographical Statement

Brandi Thompson Summers received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2014.  Dr. Summers joins Virginia Commonwealth University as an Assistant Professor of African American Studies.

Research Interests

Dr. Summers’ research and teaching interests focus on race, gender, urban aesthetics, fashion, media studies, and visual culture.  In particular, her work interrogates identity, memory, place, and history and how planning and urban design practices are implicated in the spacialization of race and racism. Her forthcoming book project, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (under contract with the University of North Carolina Press), explores the way that competing notions of blackness structure efforts to raise capital and develop land in Washington, D.C. She has written several essays that analyze the relationship between race, aesthetics, urbanity, and power that appear in both academic and popular publications. Her research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, among others. She is also co-founder of TEXTURES, a pop-up material culture lab creating and curating content at the intersections of fashion, bodies, and the built environment.


Summers, B.T. 2017. “Race as Aesthetic: The Politics of Vision, Visibility, and Visuality in Vogue Italia’s ‘A Black Issue.’” QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking (4)3: 81-108. 

Summers, B.T. 2015. “H Street, Main Street and the Neoliberal Aesthetics of Cool.” In Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, DC, eds. D. Hyra and S. Prince. New York: Routledge.

Summers, B.T. (Forthcoming) “Haute (Ghetto) Mess”: Post-Racial Aesthetics and the Seduction of Blackness in High Fashion.” In Race Post-Race, H. Gray, S. Banet-Weiser, and R. Mukherjee, eds. Durham: Duke University Press. 


Black Sights and Sites: Race and Visual Media
Street Life: Race and Aesthetics in the Built Environment

Art of Darkness: Perspectives on African and African American Contemporary Art

Resident Blackness: Oral History and African American Life