Land, Race and Property Rights
Property law has shaped the history of racialization in the United States. The aim of this course is to capture today’s complex landscape of race and property law while at the same time reassessing the historical understanding of this nexus, which has resulted in a divided nation where people of color struggle with the effects of intergenerational dispossession and exclusion. This course will reflect on this history through familiar property concepts, such as exclusion, access, acquisition and distribution, conquest, expropriation and dispossession. Through a race-centric lens, the course will explore these concepts by unpacking policies, practices and laws that have shaped the racialization of property, such as the spatial regime of Jim Crow to racially restrictive covenants to urban renewal to redlining, exclusionary zoning and the subprime mortgage crisis. Students will have the opportunity to learn from a variety of guest speakers, including local judges, elected officials, public-interest attorneys, real estate developers, real estate attorneys, social activists and planning commission members who have played (and still play) a significant role in shaping race, law, property and public policy in the Pittsburgh region.