Belongingness and the Harlem drummers

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3 Scopus citations


In this article, I analyze a recent conflict over drumming in a Harlem park to understand the ways in which cultural and racial symbols are employed in negotiations of space within cities. Specifically, I argue that racial belongingness-a racialized claim to space that exists outside of property rights and demarcated through iconography-can be used to both resist and facilitate gentrification in urban locales. The Harlem case illustrates how racial belongingness functions as a device that allows groups to contest power, representation, and access to public space across temporal, physical, and aural boundaries. Thus, I look closely at the city as a canvas and stage upon which passive forms of communication manifest in a racially and culturally coded fashion. Additionally, I argue that contemporary public space discourse is overly preoccupied with class, often neglecting the significance of race in the constitution and experience of urban space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-358
Number of pages19
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


  • Harlem
  • gentrification
  • public space
  • race


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