Short Paper , , , , ,

Mapping and placemaking to understand school segregation and integration

Bryan Mann
University of Alabama


Jaclyn Dudek
University of Alabama

School and neighborhood segregation represent spatial circumstances. Yet, literature on school and neighborhood segregation tends to focus on outcomes associated with space, but not centrally linked to it: Educational scores, income inequality, healthcare access, and so forth. While these outcomes help explain features of space and (in)justice, our study expands on past research because it explores a key spatial question related to school segregation: How do segregation and integration shape individual placemaking of a community? Our study explores this question through interviews and mapping activities with adults who lived during different school segregation circumstances in one southern city, including legal segregation, forced integration, and re-segregation. Initial findings reveal that while housing segregation and isolation tended not to change over time in the city we studied, individuals placed different meaning to their home circumstances based on their relationships with in-neighborhood and out-of-neighborhood educational organizations. For some, school segregation exacerbated a sense of confinement that came with neighborhood segregation. For others, integration and increased educational options led to a more expansive sense of community space and place.