• Samantha Bowden Akbari
  • Samantha Bowden Akbari
  • Research Interests: urban public policy, community development, public space/memory, cultural landscapes, decolonial/social movements, political economy of difference
  • Advisor: Robert W. Lake
  • Degree: Ph.D.



My dissertation—“Symbols  and Systems!”: Exploring the Politics of Urban Fallism in the U.S. South—contributes to the field of human geography by interpreting the phenomenon of urban fallism as form of decolonial, Black-radical memory work embedded in the so-called monument wars in the U.S. South. In order to explore the politics embedded in these conflicts, this study examines: 1) the Confederate monument fight in Tampa, Florida as a three-way (as opposed to two) political struggle over memory and meaning between monument defenders, neoliberal multiculturalists, and anti-racist activists; 2) the often-overlooked intersectional politics of gender and race in Confederate monument construction and removal; and 3) the case of monument removals in New Orleans, Louisiana by the City Council generally; 4) and more specifically, the “Take ‘Em Down, NOLA!” coalition’s more decolonial approach to urban fallism and beyond. Finally, the two case studies are discussed in tandem to proffer lessons from each for both scholars and activists alike.

In 2016, I completed my master’s degree analyzing the public policy of cities hosting so-called 'mega-events' as a neoliberal urban accumulation strategy at the University of South Florida.

Previous Degrees:

*   M.A., Political Science, University of South Florida*   B.A., Geography and International Relations, University of South Florida

Academic Publications:

* Bowden Akbari, S. (2023). “Symbols AND Systems!” The Take ‘Em Down, NOLA Coalition’s Grassroots Approach to Decolonial Memory Work." In LaToya Eaves and Heidi Nast's anthology Spatial Futures of the U.S. South, forthcoming from Palgrave Books.* Bowden Akbari, S., McFarland, S., and Bosman, M.M.  (2022). “Engendered in Stone: The Role of Race and Gender in the Construction and Removal of Confederate Monuments in Tampa, Florida." Part part of the special edition inACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, edited by Reuben Rose-Redwood.*   McFarland, S., Bowden, S.L., and Bosman, M.M. (2019). “Take ‘Em Down Hillsborough!”: Race, space, and the 2017 Struggle Over Confederate Iconography in Neoliberal Tampa.” Southeastern Geographer.*   Bowden, S.L. (2019). “Occupy: Prehistories and Continuities." In H. Vanden, G. Prevost, and P. Funke, eds., The New Global Politics: Global Social Movements in the Twenty-First Century. London: Routledge.*   Bosman, M.M., & Bowden, S.L. (in press). “Mega-Events as Neoliberal Urban Accumulation Strategy." In Bosman, M. Martin, Riverfront Gentrification and the Making of a Revanchist City: New Military Urbanism, Racial Neoliberalism and the New Jim Crow in Tampa, Florida. New York and London: Verso.

Popular Publications:

  *   “The Myth of ‘Post-racial’ America: Color-blind Racism in the Push to Repeal Affirmative Action in Higher Education.” Published in The Village Voice and UCal’s Must-Read Sunday Reading List, 2014.


  • University and Louis Bevier Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2020–2021)
  • Graduate Research Excellence Award, RU Geography Department (Spring 2020)
  • Pre-Dissertation Fieldwork Improvement Grant, Rutgers (Summer 2018)
  • Teaching Assistantship, Rutgers (2017–2019)
  • Dean's Excellence Fellowship, Rutgers (2016–2017, 2019–2020)
  • Graduate Assistant Fellowship, USF (2015–2016)
  • Department of Government and International Studies Conference Grant, USF (Spring 2015)
  • Conference Presentation Travel Grant, USF (Spring 2015)
  • "Research That Matters!" Grant Finalist, USF (Fall 2014)
  • The Washington Center Fellowship, State Legislature Award, USF (Summer 2012)
  • Southwest Airlines, The Washington Center Flight Sponsorship, USF (Summer 2012)
  • Florida Bright Futures Gold Scholarship (2006–2007)