Faculty Spotlight: Louise Seamster

Professor Seamster

We are extremely fortunate to welcome a pair of outstanding sociologists to our faculty: Victor Ray and Louise Seamster. Louise grew up in Santa Cruz, California, but lacked the proper surfer temperament and switched coasts to attend Vassar College in 2001. She became a sociologist after trial and error, and some just-in-time mentoring. She was ultimately very happy when she realized being a sociologist is the only job where you're allowed to question everything. She obtained her PhD at Duke University after an MA in Liberal Studies at the New School for Social Research. Currently, Louise is very happy to be in Iowa City and especially glad to be quarantined in a house with a big yard.

Louise studies race and economic inequality, particularly in cities. She writes about racial politics and urban development, emergency financial management, debt, and the myth of racial progress. Her research centers on the interactive financial and symbolic factors reproducing racial inequality across multiple domains. Her current book project uses Benton Harbor as a case study to understand competing approaches to time, money and property in cities. She is working on two additional projects around race, governance and infrastructure in Flint and Tamina, Texas. Another line of research examines racial disparities in debt and debt markets, including “predatory inclusion” in student debt, and the different meaning of debt for black and white families. Finally, she is also working in the arena of algorithmic inequality.

Her work has been published in Contexts, Sociological Theory, Du Bois Review, Social Currents, and Ethnic and Racial Studies, among other academic outlets, and has guest edited five special issues on issues around race. You can read more about how her research has contributed to public policy, specifically Elizabeth Warren’s, here.



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