Akira Drake Rodriguez

Wolf Humanities Center Penn Faculty Fellow

20232024 Forum on Revolution

Akira Drake Rodriguez

Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning

Akira Drake Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. Her research examines the ways that disenfranchised groups re-appropriate their marginalized spaces in the city to gain access to and sustain urban political power. She is the author of Diverging Space for Deviants: The Politics of Atlanta’s Public Housing, which explores how the politics of public housing planning and race in Atlanta created a politics of resistance within its public housing developments. She is also the lead author of A Green New Deal for K-12 Schools, through her work with the climate + community project. She has received funding from the Spencer Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Innovation Initiative and Projects for Progress funds to support her work around school facilities planning in Philadelphia public schools.

Seeding the Plot: Black Women Architects of 20th Century US Social Movements

This project interrogates the seeding of urban social movements using real and imagined Black women urban geographies. From kitchen tables and living rooms that seeded early organizational and intellectual histories, to the recurring landscapes and tropes that appear in fiction authored by Black women, I designate the multiple sites/plots of inquiry and analysis as key to understanding Black women’s critical spatial literacy over time and place. Using cases in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Baltimore, I ask: what are the spatial mechanisms and designs of the kitchen table? Of the back and side yards? Of the park and playground? Of the bus route? Of the factory floor? And how do these understandings translate into existing or new frameworks for 20th century urban social movements?