Yuki Kato

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 historical erasure and "discovery" of folk gardening/farming in urban BIPOC communities across the United States


Her co-edited book with Alison H. Alkon and Joshua Sbicca, A Recipe for Gentrification (NYU Press) was published in 2020.

Her new book, Gardens of Hope: Cultivating Food and the Future in a Post-Disaster City, is forthcoming from NYU Press. Based on longitudinal in-depth interviews with urban growers, local organizations, and archival data, the study examines what motivated a group of individuals to start an urban garden or a farm in post-Katrina New Orleans as the city was undergoing rapid changes.  The central argument of the book is that the growers saw these spaces as a place for practicing "prefiguartive urbanism," or a form of civic engagement to enact alternative futures, now, but as individuals not as a collective social movement. Kato describes multitudes of opportunities and challenges that the growers faced in the post-disaster city, and how they prioritized "doing something, now" over theorizing and organizing as they continued to innovate, adapt, and experiment in the garden. The book offers both inspirational and cautionary tales for those of us moved to take actions in times of crisis and uncertainties, and reveals what we often do not understand about what it takes to start and sustain a cultivation project in the city.    


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.