RAP: Race, Arts, and Placemaking

An Inter-disciplinary Research Collaborative


A timely opportunity

The faculty involved in this initiative see both a timely urgency and an opportunity. A national conversation about race has opened up to a degree not seen in recent times. At the same time, many of our faculty’s individual and joint research projects and activities have been uncovering grassroots placemakers of color who have been claiming urban space through design, media, the arts and cultural practice. We believe USC can stake out a unique space in the current discourse, given our unusual combination of disciplinary strengths, to extend the national discussion beyond the important topics of policing and discrimination, to how to create places in the city where communities of color can thrive. How might we disrupt an intractable pattern in which public and private sector investments intended to redevelop the city often result in disproportionately displacing low-income communities of color? How do we conceptualize and reimagine related topics, including placemaking, community engagement, the design of infrastructure and the integration of emerging media platforms into space, in a manner that defies displacement? How can we expand this conversation beyond the university and make a pertinent contribution to a very real process?

To date, there has not yet been a regular meeting place for USC faculty to gather and share their views on these issues. RAP received a USC Provost Research Collaboration Fund grant to support our gatherings, new courses, and a public symposium series. The goal is to educate each other through dialogue, to develop common vocabulary, and to inspire research and action. We value integrating theory and practice, and rather than simply talking in the ivory tower, we design, make, and collaborate with each other and with those outside of campus.

List of RAP faculty:


a) Bar, François (Annenberg)
Professor Annenberg School of Communication

b) Frazier, Robeson Taj (Annenberg)
Associate Professor Annenberg School of Communication; Director of the Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA)

c) Kim, Annette (Price)
Associate Professor Price School of Public Policy, Director of SLAB (Spatial Analysis Lab)

d) Kun, Josh (Annenberg)
Professor and Director of Annenberg School of Communication

e) Willis, Holly (Cinema)
Research Professor, Chair, Media Arts + Practice Division, School of Cinematic Arts



1) Armour, Jody (Law)
Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law

2) Banerjee, Tridib (Price)
Professor Price School of Public Policy, James Irvine Chair in Urban and Regional Planning

3) Bostic, Raphael (Price)
Chair of the Department of Governance, Management and the Policy Process, Director Bedrosian Center

4) Nao Bustamante (Roski)
Professor, Director of MFA Art

5) Currid-Halkett, Elizabeth (Price)
Professor Price School of Public Policy, James Irvine Chair in Urban and Regional Planning

6) Hancock, Ange-Marie (Dornsife)
Professor and Chair of Gender Studies

7) Hill, Edwin (Dornsife)
Associate Professor of French and Italian and American Studies and Ethnicity

8) Jacobs, Lanita (Dornsife)
Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Studies and Ethnicity

9) Jackson, Maria
Professor, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University

10) Jones, Victor (Architecture)
Principal, Fièvre + Jones

11) Lacy, Suzanne (Roski)
Professor of Art

12) Maclay, Colin (Annenberg)
Professor of Communication and Executive Director for the Annenberg Innovation Lab

13) Nguyen, Viet Thanh (Dornsife)
Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity

14) Schweitzer, Lisa (Price)
Associate Professor Price School of Public Policy

15) Sloane, David (Price)
Professor Price School of Public Policy

16) Trope, Alison (Annenberg)
Clinical Professor of Communication, Director of Undergraduate Studies

17) Wilson, Francille (Dornsife)
Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History