Japonica Brown-Saracino

Professor and Chair


Japonica Brown-Saracino is an ethnographer who specializes in urban and community sociology, cultural sociology, and the study of sexualities. In 2004, City and Community published her article, “Social Preservationists and the Quest for Authentic Community,” which draws on her study of four gentrifying communities (two small New England towns and two Chicago neighborhoods) and introduces the concept of “social preservation”. She further explores social preservation and gentrification in her book, A Neighborhood That Never Changes: Gentrification, Social Preservation, and the Search for Authenticity (The Fieldwork Encounters and Discoveries Series of the University of Chicago Press, 2009), which received the 2010 – 2011 Urban Affairs Association Best Book Award. In 2010 she published a second book, The Gentrification Debates, which is composed of excerpts from defining book chapters and articles on gentrification published over the last fifty years. Brown-Saracino frames the collection with original essays on four key areas of debate within the gentrification literature. More recently, Brown-Saracino published a review of sociological scholarship on gentrification (Annual Review of Sociology, 2017).

Her most recent book, How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities, was published in 2018 by the University of Chicago Press. The book draws on her comparative ethnography of four small cities with growing or emerging populations of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women. It highlights how city ecology shapes social interactions, and, ultimately, how we understand ourselves and the groups to which we belong. Articles from the project have appeared in Social Problems (2011), Qualitative Sociology (2014), Sexualities (2017), and American Journal of Sociology (2015). Her 2015 AJS article received the Jane Addams Award for best article from the Community and Urban Section of the American Sociological Association.

Recent projects include an ethnography of dyke bar commemoration in four U.S. cities, with related articles published in the Journal of Lesbian Studies (2020) and American Journal of Sociology (2021), and, with collaborators, a study of museum representations of gender and sexualities.

Brown-Saracino has served as Vice-President of the Eastern Sociological Society; chair of the Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association; as co-book review editor for City & Community; and as a consulting editor for the American Journal of Sociology. She currently serves on the Culture Council of the American Sociological Association, and as an associate editor of Social Problems. At BU she directs the Urban Inequalities Workshop, which is sponsored by the Initiative on Cities.

Curriculum Vitae