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Tea Talk June 1st: Raoul Lievanos

Please join us this Thursday, June 1 for a Geography tea talk by Raoul Lievanos (Department of Sociology, University of Oregon):

“Producing Hazardous Space: Socio-Nature and Valuation in the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation Residential Security Survey”

The talk will begin at 4:00 pm in Condon 106. Join us at 3:30 pm in Condon 108 for snacks, conversation, and department announcements.

Abstract: Previous research demonstrates that demographic and housing factors generally predicted neighborhood mortgage risk-rating outcomes in the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) Residential Security Surveys (RSS) of 239 major U.S. cities following the Great Depression. This article contributes to previous research by first developing a novel “socio-nature” model of HOLC risk assessment that bridges the sociology of knowledge and economic and environmental sociology with sociospatial theory and urban political ecology. The model highlights how HOLC residential security appraisals translated ecological theory in a manner that conflated social hierarchies with the biophysical environment and neighborhood quality, especially in the highest-risk “hazardous” grade. Following theoretical illustrations from the iconic case of Chicago, the in-depth case study of Stockton, California informs our understanding of how different environmental considerations—industrial zones and flood risk—shaped HOLC risk-rating outcomes. Spatial and qualitative comparative analyses of archival Stockton RSS data uncovers hitherto neglected heterogeneous configurations of race, class, environmental threats, exclusionary market infrastructure, and housing quality and value that condition hazardous grade assignment and subsequent neighborhood housing values. The study concludes with a discussion of its scholarly and practical implications regarding the production of hazardous space, socio-nature, and valuation within U.S. real estate markets.

We hope to see you there!