Davison on Law and Neighborhood Names

Nestor M. Davison, Fordham University School of Law, is publishing Law & Neighborhood Names in Vanderbilt Law Review. Here is the abstract. This Article provides a novel investigation of how law both enables and constrains the ability of city residents to claim, name, and often rename their neighborhoods. A rich interdisciplinary dialogue in areas such as geography and sociology has emerged on the significance of place names, but this literature has largely ignored the legal dimensions of the phenomenon, with its implications for urban governance, belonging, and community conflict. This Article’s empirical exploration of the role of law in change and conflict regarding neighborhood identity thus advances the discourse both for legal scholars focused on urban dynamics and across disciplines. From gentrification fights sparked by efforts to rename the southern part of Harlem as “SoHa,” to a successful community movement to change the name of the area once…

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