Akira Drake Rodriguez, MPA, PhD
Assistant Professor, Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania
CPLN 500: Introduction to Planning History, Theory and Practice
CPLN 624: Readings in Race, Poverty, and Place
CPLN 508: Urban Research Methods
Akira Drake Rodriguez, MPA, PhD is an assistant professor of the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines the politics of urban planning, or the ways that disenfranchised groups re-appropriate their marginalized spaces in the city to gain access to and sustain urban political power. Using an interdisciplinary and multiple method approach, her research engages scholarship in urban studies, political science, urban history, black feminist studies, community development, urban policy, and critical geography using both qualitative and quantitative data and methods. This research agenda is particularly relevant in these politically unstable times, where cities continue to marginalize underrepresented minority groups by defunding public institutions, promoting urban policies that subsidize their displacement while limiting affordable housing options, and continuing the funding and support of a militarized police force.
Dr. Rodriguez is currently working on her manuscript, Deviants in Divergent Spaces: The Radical Politics of Atlanta’s Public Housing, which is under contract with the University of Georgia Press. The book explores how the politics of public housing planning and race in Atlanta created a politics of resistance within its public housing developments. This research offers the alternative benefits of public housing, outside of shelter provision, to challenge the overwhelming narrative of public housing as a dysfunctional relic of the welfare state.