Redlining, Segregation, and St. Louis

This major project focuses on documenting the historical origins of neighborhood stigmas as well as their contemporary consequences. I use St. Louis as a case study, arguing in my Sociology Compass article that urban sociology has systematically ignored cities in the literal and figurative American South. My work to date, published in Journal of Urban Affairs and Applied Geography as well as in several working papers, focuses on segregation, vacancy, violent crime, and poor health in the St. Louis region. Like my EMS work, I make extensive use of GIS techniques and am branching into machine learning with a computer science colleague as we look to general digital models of St. Louis neighborhoods lost to urban renewal efforts. These rely on processing historical maps and images, beginning with the former Mill Creek Valley neighborhood.

This overarching focus is the centerpiece of my research effort moving forward. I am developing a book prospectus tentatively titled Detrimental Influences that builds on W.E.B. Du Bois and racial capitalism to connect historical racism in St. Louis with contemporary outcomes across the region. I see this as a natural extension of my prior work and Walter Johnson’s historical research. To support this work, I have multiple grants under review and in progress to support the creation of neighborhood-level health outcomes measures in St. Louis and other Missouri cities. These grant proposals address notoriously challenging data and statistical sources of bias for understanding the connections between “redlining,” historical racism, and contemporary health outcomes.

This project also has substantial community engagement. For example, I have worked with the St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative to create a regularly updated inventory of vacant properties in the City of St. Louis and am supporting efforts to address vacancy and dumping in the suburb of Kinloch.