Category: Mentorship

Final Fall Mentor Meeting

Dean Gallaher and I met on December 5th for over an hour to ‘finalize’ the proposed research design methodology that I had settled on: a large-n approach with a focus on explaining variation in the uneven spatial patterns of eviction rates in Washington D.C.

Specifically, we spent time discussing the gentrification index that I will have to develop over the course of 306. Here she made two specific recommendations: first that the index be interval-ratio, as opposed to the possible to gentrify/gentrifying/gentrified labels other authors have created and, second, that the index be specific to the district. This second recommendation is particularly important when determining the inputs that go into creating the index. For instance, a similar index for San Francisco, because of the unique nature of gentrification in that city, might not include the percent decrease in the black population as part of an index while that factor will definitely be part of a D.C. specific interval.

Dean Gallaher also helped me plan out the next steps for moving forward into 306. One of my first tasks is attempting to get the full context for the data I have from the Office of the Tenant Advocate. What does the case number listed in my data mean? Is an internal filing system or does it refer to court cases where I might be able to find other records? Are all scheduled evictions carried out? And if not is there a record of that? All those questions are necessary to know what data I really have so far, and what conclusions I could draw from an explanation of them.

Finally, a question we talked about, but one that I also wanted to bring up in a broader context, has to do with of the scope of my project and the body of scholarship to which my research would belong. Am I entering a conversation with other scholars studying urban phenomena in Washington D.C.? Or am I entering a conversation with scholars who study eviction specifically (in cities/regions around the world)? I understand that those two conversations are not mutually exclusive, but it’s a question I do not have a good answer for, and I think having an answer for it would help me narrow my focus.

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First Mentor Meeting

Dean Gallaher and I met on Tuesday, September 10th from 4-5pm.

After a brief introduction and discussion of my broad research interests, Dean Gallaher and I spent a majority of our conversation working to generate the kinds of questions I could be asking about forced movement in urban settings. Some of those questions we discussed were: What strategies are landlords using to force residents to move outside of just evictions and why do landlords pursue these informal strategies? What explains spatial patterns of climate vulnerability in cities? Why are some tenant organizations successful and others not? This list is not exhaustive of the questions we generated but more importantly it has helped me start thinking about more specific empirical phenomena I am interested in explaining.

Another point of discussion was whether there was a specific city I would prefer to do research on/in. We concluded that researching D.C. would give me some unique opportunities in 306 – if I was to carry out ethnographic research – to actually go into the field and conduct in-person interviews. She also recommended that if I move forward with that focus on D.C. I familiarize myself with, one, a history of D.C, two, D.C.’s housing code, and three, what and how D.C. reports data on housing related issues (housing code violations specifically).

She also gave me some particular terms of art to use as I search for articles for a literature review. Her main recommendation was to look at the field of urban ecology and find a selection of studies with a variety of methodologies so I could get an idea of how ethnography/case studies/statistical analysis are commonly done in urban contexts.

Moving forward I have two main goals for the next couple weeks. First, keep reading – but move away from long books that are going to take me weeks to read – and find briefer articles so I can better grasp the range of literature that exists in urban ecology. And second, start searching through D.C.’s (and maybe other cities’) government websites to try to see what data they publish, if I might need to send emails requesting that data (I’ve already sent a couple), and where other databases of relevant information might be.

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