Get to Know: Sean Posey


Urban Issues














Tell us about yourself. What got you into politics and how would you define yourself politically (if at all)?

I drifted into politics after the September 11 attacks and then became extremely political in the lead-up to the Gulf War in 2003. Getting involved with the anti-war movement led me to become a more "political" person.

I've always considered myself to be situated on the Left politically; however, I don't have any label that I attach to my worldview.


How did you come to be involved with the Hampton Institute?

It was by happenstance that I came to be involved with the Hampton Institute. I knew Cherise Charleswell (Women's Issues Chair) from social media, and she happened to mention to me that a think tank she was involved with was looking for department chairs. I wrote Colin Jenkins expressing my interest in any potential openings. The rest is history. 'Urban Issues' was a department they had on the drawing board apparently. My background just happened to fit.


What do you think some of the goals of the Institute should be? What does the term "a working-class think tank" mean to you?

I'd say the Hampton Institute exists to advance ideas associated with the amelioration of a variety of systemic inequalities, both nationally and globally. Many of these issues disproportionately affect what we would call the "working class." In particular, the restructuring of finance and the exploitation of labor at the hands of capital are key components that lend themselves to a working class analysis.


What led you to being in your particular department? What makes you so passionate about that area?

I'm trained as an urban historian first and foremost, but I've also been involved with and written about urban planning and its impact on American cities. Intellectuals and writers often subsume urban issues into supposedly more important concepts. I take exception to that kind of analysis. The urban environment is increasingly the locus of American life, and the forms our cities take-both physically and economically-dictate how life is organized for working people. Understanding cities as sophisticated systems is key to understanding modern America.


What are some of your political goals? What does "the revolution" look like to you?

To be quite honest, I don't know yet what "the revolution" will look like. I've advanced the idea that revolutionary change is likely, but only after prolonged economic pain-which we haven't reached…yet. My political goals for that moment are straightforward: An economic or social disaster that cannot be readily fixed within the constraints of the current socio-economic order will lead to a moment where the opportunity to radically restructure society will exist.


What books and/or authors would you suggest to others?

A. David Harvey, "Rebel Cities"

B. Thomas Sugrue, "Origins of the Urban Crisis"

C. James Howard Kunstler, "The Geography of Nowhere"

D. Mike Davis, "City of Quartz"

E. William Julius Wilson, "The Truly Disadvantaged"


What media sources do you use to keep up on current events?

A. Truthout

B. Alternet

C. Citylab

D. The Atlantic Monthly

E. Tom Dispatch

F. Intercultural Urbanism


What kind of music do you listen to? What are some of your favorite foods?

Jazz and hip-hop are mostly on my playlist. As far as food goes? Indian! Indian! Indian!


What (apolitical thing) makes you happy? What are your hobbies or interests?

Long walks, leisurely dinners at out-of-the-way places, and stimulating conversation.

My main hobbies are hiking, critiquing films, and travelling.