Boston’s research focuses on the ideologies and institutions that drive racial inequality in the post-civil rights era United States, and the ways Black people respond to multiple, intersecting, and dynamic systems of domination. Her current projects examine these themes in the context of gentrification in Brooklyn, New York. In her work, she illuminates how historic and contemporary discrimination render Black Brooklynites uniquely vulnerable to displacement and marginalization, as well as vital institutions and expressive cultures they have developed in the context of profound structural constraints.

Boston’s past research has explored the social, cultural, and ideological construction of race, the politics of Black popular culture, and the ways racial identity and group consciousness influence racial and ethnic minorities’ political behaviors and identities. Her previous affiliations include New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management and Institute of African American Affairs & Center for Black Visual Culture, Brown University’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences initiative, and Duke University’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences.

Research Interests

African American Studies; Africana/Black Studies; Class; Critical Geography; Cultural Studies; History; Inequality; Politics; Popular Culture; Public Humanities; Race and Ethnicity; Social Movements; Urban Sociology

Book Project

The “New” New York: Race, Space, and Power in Gentrifying Brooklyn

Located at the nexus of African American history, critical geography, urban history, and cultural studies, The “New” New York explores the racial operations of post-1970 gentrification in Brooklyn, New York. Using historical, sociological and ethnographic approaches, it links the history of race and structural racism in Brooklyn and the rise of neoliberalism and colorblind racial ideology to the cumulative vulnerabilities of Black residents of gentrifying neighborhoods. Whereas the older model of gentrification traditionally presented itself as a restoration of old glamor, the book argues that current modes are signifiers of the triumph of global capital, which erases rather than restores old histories, and compels longstanding residents to flee and make room for the new rich. Through a close analysis of gentrification’s psychic, social, and material consequences for Black communities, it also argues that it relies on a false sense of inclusion in order to further obscure the people, places, and cultural memories it erases. The “New” New York links struggles for spatial control to struggles over racial control and self-determination. The exclusionary restructuring of urban space sheds light on the nature of the contemporary fragility of Black communities, and has implications that extend far beyond the confines of a single borough.

Selected Research Awards & Honors

Pitt Momentum Funds Priming Grant (2023-24)
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Larry E. Davis Emerging Scholar Award (2022)
University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems

Erik Olin Wright Distinguished Article Award (2022)
Critical Sociology

Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2021)
New York University

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2017-2018)
Ford Foundation and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

SSRC-Mellon Mays Graduate Studies Enhancement Grant (2014 & 2016)
Social Science Research Council

MMUF Travel & Research Grant (2015)
Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation)

SSRC-Mellon Mays Predoctoral Research Development Grant (2015)
Social Science Research Council

Dean’s Graduate Fellowship (2010-2012)
Duke University Graduate School

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (2009-2010)
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Duke University