Yuki Kato is an urban sociologist whose research interests intersect the subfields of social stratification, food and environment justice, culture and consumption, and symbolic interaction. She has conducted research on the rise of urban agricultural cultivation and the alternative food movement in post-Katrina New Orleans, with a particular focus on food access disparity, spatial and social landscape of alternative food activism, and contested meanings of local during a major urban transformation. Her new research projects continue to examine the role of people engaging in social changes through unconventional methods, such as urban agriculture and social entrepreneurialism, in a gentrifying city. She also has a project underway that explores how urban growers adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as they saw new opportunities and constraints that arose from the major economic and social disruption.
Her co-edited book with Alison H. Alkon and Joshua Sbicca, A Recipe for Gentrification (NYU Press) was published in 2020.
She is writing a book, Cultivating Hope: Growing Food, Community, and Future in Post-Katrina New Orleans, based on in-depth interviews with urban growers, local organizations, and archival data. It examines how urban cultivation gained popularity and visibility in the city undergoing rapid changes over a decade following the 2005 storm. The central argument of the book is that while urban cultivation was not officially promoted as a tool of redeveloping the city, it came to embody the economic, social, and political changes in the city that became whiter and more unequal, even as many growers saw themselves as practicing alternative, prefigurative urbanism.
PUBLICATION AND PUBLIC SPEAKING
Her research has been published in numerous journals, including Sociological Perspective, Urban Studies, Journal of Agriculture and Human Values, and Urban Affairs Review. She has presented research at conferences domestically and internationally, such as the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, the Urban Affairs Association, the Association of American Geographers, the Society for the Study of Social Problem. She has also been an active citizen participant of the DC Food Policy Council.
At Georgetown, Professor Kato teaches courses that align with her research such as Environmental and Food Justice Movements, Culture and Consumption, and, Sociology of Food, along with courses that are requirement for the majors and minors such as Introduction to Sociology and Methods of Social Research.