Dr. Rachael Baker
School of Urban and Regional Planning
Department of Geography and Planning
(on leave until June 30, 2023)
Room D-313, Mackintosh-Corry Hall
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning. I completed my doctoral dissertation at York University in 2019. My dissertation research addressed property governance pertaining to urban agriculture and Black food sovereignty, and housing activism in post-bankruptcy Detroit. This research was made possible through my time as a doctoral researcher at Wayne State University, supported by the Canada-US Fulbright program. I held a post-doctoral position at the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago and worked as a research associate on initiatives for economic and food autonomy in the Moose Cree and Taykwa Tagamou Nations. I am a current member of the Urban Praxis Workshop and a past board member of the Tricycle Collective, a Detroit-based foreclosure prevention non-profit. I am a humble co-founder of Detroit Renter City (detroitrentercity.com) and have spent time outside of academia as a tenant and labor organizer and in the world of non-profit housing organizations. I have moonlighted in policy and grant writing and project management, with lots of experience in the service industry and freelance writing in between. I am a first-generation university graduate, a beekeeper, and I thoroughly enjoy hiking and swimming.
PhD, York University, 2019 (Geography)
MA, McMaster University, 2012 (School of Labour Studies)
Hons. BA, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2009 (Gender Studies and Global Studies)
I have had the privilege to teach in a variety of settings, from my early days as an outdoor education instructor to university classroom instruction, teaching in prisons, and in municipal and non-profit settings. Pedagogy is a craft. I have extensive training in popular education, circle pedagogy, and the ASPIRE principles. I currently teach at the graduate and undergraduate levels in the areas of housing policy, social planning, and urban political geography. I am available for independent reading courses.
My research practice is deeply informed by movements for social and racial justice. My methodological approaches are qualitative, action-oriented, and include ethnography and oral history, activist partnerships, and participatory and observational research. My research interests are informed by my political commitments to being an active steward in the work of decolonization, abolition, and anti-racism. For the last ten years most of my research engagement has been within community organizing spaces, mostly focused on community land use and accessibility and housing inequality and the movement for housing justice. The right to housing is connected to many other social justice issues, from the opioid crisis and policy-driven homelessness, challenges of returning from prison, and the stigmatization of psychosocial disabilities and HIV/AIDS. I’ve been conducting preliminary research on housing first models and HIV+/AIDS housing voucher programs in Canada and the US, and I look forward to finding collaborative research partnerships in these areas.
I am involved in an ongoing project about abolition and community resistance to police surveillance and facial recognition technologies in Detroit, MI. I am also excited to be an editor and collaborator on a print anthology and digital archive project about the convergence of housing justice activism and COVID-19. More about these projects, soon!
I am available for supervision at the masters and doctoral levels in the geography program. I also supervise students in the master’s in urban planning (MPL) program. I am best suited to support students who are interested in urban social and racial inequality, austerity regimes, feminist and queer theory, anti-racism and white allyship, social movements and direct action, and a range of topics related to housing and critical urban geography. Prospective graduate students who are interested in supervision in geography or planning are encouraged to contact me to learn more about supervisory options and the degree programs offered in the department. I look forward to hearing from you.