Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Matthew W. Wilson


As local governments increasingly turn to data-driven solutions to help address some of their most acute challenges, from entrenched poverty to affordable housing, they often call on community-engaged researchers as collaborators, analysts and experts. While critical scholarship has highlighted the problematic logics underpinning this turn to data and digital technologies as the solution for urban issues, university-community partnerships offer a unique opportunity to further explore not only how these discourses materialize, but also how they are being actively negotiated and re-imagined in spaces of local government.

In this thesis, I explore one such university-community partnership and its efforts to critically apply data-driven narratives to discussions of gentrification and affordable housing in Lexington, KY. Examining the positioning of academic contributions, the centrality of politics within urban planning processes, and the need to interrogate the securitization of whiteness within data-driven narratives, I ultimately argue that embracing data as inextricably saturated with power and politics creates possibilities to enliven a more progressive praxis that resists the certainty of a stratified, unequal and gentrified city. Importantly, this requires data practices that move beyond simply acknowledging the presence of power and politics, to actively, and indeed critically, embracing their very imbrication with data.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)