Affiliated Institutions

James Madison University

Mieka Brand Polanco is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at James Madison University. Polanco studies the complex relationship between human beings and their social and physical landscapes. Her research in African-American anthropology centers on issues of space, race, and history. Polanco's teaching and research interests include the African Diaspora, race and the politics of racial identity, social space, human geography, gentrification, and community studies.

Areas of Research

Space, Race, History


Polanco, Mieka Brand. Historically Black: Imagining Community in a Black Historic District. New York: NYU Press. Forthcoming (June 2014).

Polanco, Mieka Brand. Etiology/Arbitration/Redress: Criminal Bodies and State Impunity. Political and Legal Anthropology Review (accepted pending revisions).

Polanco, Mieka Brand. “Not to Scale”: Cartographies of Whiteness in Virginia. Transforming Anthropology 20(2012)(2):118-130.

Brand, Mieka. Gating Union: The Politics of Making an Historically Black Community. Home Cultures 5(2008)(1):27-48.

Brand, Mieka. Making Moonshine: Thick Histories in a U.S. Historically Black Community. Anthropology and Humanism 32(2007)(1):52-61.


Virginia, United States

Home Bound: : Privacy, Deprivation, and Racialized Spaces in an Asylum-turned-Prison-turned-Upscale Neighborhood

Home Bound focuses on a cluster of 19th-century buildings in Virginia originally built as an insane asylum, transformed in the early 20th Century into a psychiatric hospital, converted to a medium security prison in the 1970s, and currently being "up-cycled" into a posh condo complex. In each phase the site was designed to convey a clear statement about the nature of its human content, and their place in society. Residents, for their part, held their own ideas about who they are.