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Daanika Gordon

Faculty Fellow
Department of Sociology

Daanika Gordon is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tufts University. Her research examines the institutional and interactional mechanisms that undergird contemporary racial inequality in the city. Specifically, she investigates the ties between segregation, urban governance, and policing, with a focus on how organizational processes intervene between structural inequalities and everyday experiences. Drawing on theories of race and racism, law in action, organizations, and the urban political economy, Dr. Gordon’s scholarship analyzes 1) policing as a tool of urban governance, 2) racial inequalities as outcomes of seemingly race-neutral organizational policies, and 3) segregation as a relational and dynamically produced social structure.

These themes are reflected in Dr. Gordon’s first book, Policing the Racial Divide: Urban Growth Politics and the Remaking of Segregation (NYU Press 2022). Drawing on a case study of the police department in “River City,” a post-industrial metropolis, the book illustrates the role of the police in rearticulating the racialized experiences attached to segregated neighborhoods. Moreover, it traces racially disparate policing strategies back to an underexplored source—the participation of the police in a broader politics of urban redevelopment and growth. In many post-industrial cities, growth coalitions have pursued uneven development, justifying the infusion of resources in gentrifying neighborhoods and aspirational downtowns, while framing historically marginalized communities as sources of criminal and civic threat. Police executives in River City aligned their strategies and resources with this vision of the city, amplifying the protection of predominantly white, middle-class neighborhoods, on the one hand, and the criminalization of predominantly Black and economically depressed communities on the other. Policing the Racial Divide was the 2023 winner of the Edwin H. Sutherland Book Award, presented by the Law and Society Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Dr. Gordon’s work has appeared in journals including Social Problems, Law & Social Inquiry, Law & Policy, Socius: Sociological Perspectives for a Dynamic World, and Sociological Perspectives, among other outlets. At Tufts, her research has been funded by the Institute for Citizens and Scholars, the Bernstein Faculty Fellowship, the Neubauer Faculty Fellowship, and the Faculty Research Awards Committee. Prior, her work was supported by the Center for Engaged Scholarship and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Gordon teaches courses including the sociology of race and ethnicity, race and the criminal justice system, deviance and conformity, and research design and interpretation. She also teaches courses and sits on the faculty advisory committee for the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College (TUPIT). Dr. Gordon was the 2023 recipient of the Recognition of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (ROUTE) Award, which is awarded annually to a junior faculty member who has displayed exceptional teaching and advising, concern for students’ academic and personal growth, and the ability to convey passion and enthusiasm for their field of study.

Dr. Gordon is the co-chair of the Tufts sociology department’s DEIJ committee. She is currently a board member for the Law & Society Association, an editorial advisory board member for Social Problems, and an editorial board member for Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.