Naa Oyo Kwate to Receive the 2024 Best Book in the Field of Urban Affairs Award

Dr. Naa Oyo Kwate (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey) has been selected to receive the 2024 Best Book in the Field of Urban Affairs Award for White Burgers, Black Cash: Fast Food from Black Exclusion to Exploitation (University of Minnesota Press, 2023). 

This annual award is given to a book that is well-written and based on rigorous research on an urban issue(s) within any national context. Sixty-four (64) books were nominated this year from several different disciplines and covering a wide range of urban topics.


White Burgers, Black Cash: Fast Food from Black Exclusion to Exploitation by Naa Oyo A. Kwate (University of Minnesota Press) is a detailed, fascinating, and insightful study of the history and current practices of the fast food industry. The book is impressively interdisciplinary, drawing on methods and themes from history, public health, geography, planning, and sociology. Dr. Kwate dissects the creation of racialized landscapes over time in urban America, detailing how exploitative retailers have come to characterize black spaces. Dr. Kwate uses the lens of a single industry to show how structural forces of racism, capitalism, and politics intersect with the individual acts of businesses, customers, and local officials. The book’s engagement with the everyday experiences and materiality of the city, while always keeping in mind connections to broader drivers of urban development, is very strong. This timely book will be of interest to scholars, students, and the general public. Dr. Kwate does an excellent job of presenting archival evidence and contemporary data while telling a compelling story of why U.S. cities have assumed particular racialized landscapes.”


Naa Oyo A. Kwate is an interdisciplinary social scientist with wide ranging interests in racial inequality and Black urban life. Originally trained as a clinical psychologist, a startling burden of chronic illness among the patients she treated in large New York City hospitals led Kwate to a research program investigating the social determinants of African American health. With the support of over $2.7 million in federal and foundation funding, Kwate has led interdisciplinary research studies at the intersection of social science, public health, and the humanities. Prior to her first major book, White Burgers, Black Cash: Fast Food from Black Exclusion to Exploitation, she published the short work Burgers in Blackface: Anti-Black Restaurants Then and Now, which examines restaurants that deploy unapologetically racist logos, themes, and architecture; and edited The Street: A Photographic Field Guide to American Inequality, a visual taxonomy of inequality using Camden, NJ as a case study. Kwate has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Newberry Library, and has received fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution, the European Institutes for Advanced Studies, and elsewhere. She is currently writing a book investigating the impact of corner liquor stores in Black communities from 1950 to date.

The formal presentation of this award will be made at the upcoming International Conference on Urban Affairs in New York at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The theme of this year’s conference is Cities on the Edge: Promoting Equity and Resiliency through Research, Activism, Planning and Policy. The conference will convene over 1200 participants from 55+ countries and representing 20+ fields of study. All award recipients will be formally recognized for their achievements during the Awards and Recognition Program on April 24, 2024; 4:30 – 5:30pm.


Nina Martin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chair); Laura Dedenbach, University of Florida; Robert Pfaff, Cleveland State University; Erin Rugland, University of Oxford; Deden Rukmana, Alabama A&M University


The Urban Affairs Association (UAA) is an international professional organization for 700+ urban scholars, researchers, policy analysts, & public service providers. UAA is dedicated to creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life. Through theoretical, empirical, and action-oriented research, UAA fosters diverse activities to understand and shape a more just and equitable urban world.

In addition to hosting an annual conference, UAA sponsors ongoing professional development opportunities; Upsilon Sigma: The Urban Studies Honor Society; and two peer-reviewed journals, the Journal of Urban Affairs and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City. You can find UAA on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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