Book review: Frédérick Douzet, The Colour of Power: Racial Coalitions and Political Power in Oakland. (Canadian Geographer)


In 2015, Canadian Geographer published a book review I did of Frédérick Douzet’s The Color of Power: Racial Coalitions and Political Power in Oakland.

This was an interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying, book. What’s interesting is the theoretical framework: Douzet, a French political geographer who studies California and its geopolitics, advanced an urban geopolitics framework to understand the City of Oakland and its racial politics as they played over time in space and through its electoral system. However, what I didn’t find very helpful was the way that Douzet talked about race as absolute categories in Oakland. I also found that she seemed to talk more to the police than to urban youth at some points.

Of course, read the book yourself and the review too, perhaps. If you want an interesting framework for understanding Oakland, this could be helpful for your shelf. But in terms of a penetrating analysis, I think Douzet’s other work on California’s state geopolitics more broadly speaking is much more helpful and better framed.