Patricia A. Banks

Associate Professor of Sociology
sociology of culture; sociology of art; consumers and consumption; race and ethnicity

Patricia A. Banks (Harvard University Ph.D. & A.M./Spelman College B.A.) studies culture, patronage, and markets with a focus on the African Diaspora. She is author of the book Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class (Routledge 2010) and has published articles in journals such as Ethnic and Racial Studies, Cultural Sociology, and Qualitative Sociology. Patricia has been a Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow and Non-Resident Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research (now the Hutchins Center) at Harvard University, and received fellowships or grants from institutions such as the UNCF/Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. She is currently working on a monograph about philanthropy at African American museums as well as research on the global market for contemporary African art and e-commerce in art market. Patricia has lectured and given talks on issues related to art and culture internationally and nationally. She is also the creator of the African American Museums Database (AAMD) which is an online app that allows researchers and other users to search for over 300 African American museums and related organizations across the United States. For more information about how her research on art collecting and racial identity has been incorporated into the sociology of art see Sociology Looks at the Arts (Routledge 2014).

Selected Courses

Spring 2017

  • Black Cultural Production and Consumption (SOCI-316BL-01, Mount Holyoke College) 
  • Race in America: Let's Talk (SOCI-214-01, Mount Holyoke College)
  • Social Entrepreneurship at Mount Holyoke College (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)
  • African Immigrants and Assimilation in the United States (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)

Past Courses

  • Art and Society (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Class in the Black Community (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Foodies: Taste and Culture in a Global Society (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research and Data Analysis (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Introduction to Sociology (Mount Holyoke College)
  • The Business of Culture: Marketing and Selling Symbolic Goods (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Fashion, Business, and Society (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)
  • The Market for Art by Contemporary African Artists: Artist Histories (Independent Study, Mount Holyoke College)

Selected Publications


Banks, Patricia A. 2010. Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class. New York: Routledge

Articles, Chapters, Reviews & Essays

Banks, Patricia A. 2017. “Ethnicity, Class, and Trusteeship at African American and Mainstream Museums." Cultural Sociology 11 (1): 97-112. 

Banks, Patricia A. 2016. Invited review of Susan E. Cahan. Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).Ethnic and Racial Studies.  DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1232

Banks, Patricia A. 2015. “Identity and the Consumption of African American Art in Art Education." Art Education Journal 68(6): 16-21.

Banks, Patricia A. 2014. "Art Ownership as Wealth Accumulation."Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research. New York: Springer. 

Banks, Patricia A. 2013. "Collecting Kara Walker" Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated). Exhibition Catalog. South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

Banks, Patricia A. 2012. “Cultural Socialization in Black Middle-Class Families.” Cultural Sociology 6 (1): 61-73.

Banks, Patricia A. 2012. “Cultural Capital.” in J. Banks (ed) Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education. London: Sage.

Banks, Patricia A. 2012. Invited review of Diane Grams. Producing Local Color: Art Networks in Ethnic Chicago. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).American Journal of Sociology 117 (4): 1284-1286.

Banks, Patricia A. 2011. Invited review of Daniel Widener. Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).Ethnic and Racial Studies 34 (2): 397-398.

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. “Black Cultural Advancement: Racial Identity and Participation in the Arts Among the Black Middle-Class.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 33 (2): 272-289.  

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. Invited review of Kimberly Eison Simmons. Reconstructing Racial Identity and the African Past in the Dominican Republic. (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press). Ethnic and Racial Studies 33(6): 1142.

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. “Conceptions of Art Ownership as a Form of Wealth Accumulation Among the Black Middle-Class.” Qualitative Sociology 33 (3): 333-348.  

Banks, Patricia A. 2010. “Reflecting the Nation: Culturally Inclusive Arts Policy and Race and Ethnicity.” Journal of Race and Policy 6 (1): 95-105.

Banks, Patricia A. 2008. Invited review of Karyn R. Lacy. Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle-Class. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press). Society 45: 210-211.

Upcoming and Recent Presentations

Panelist-The Globalization of Contemporary Art: Markets, (De-)Coloniality and (De)Commodification, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, August 2017, Montreal, Canada

Participant-Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Forum, May 2017, Washington, D.C. 

Presenting-E-Commerce and the Fine Art Market, Mini-Conference: Digital Sociology: XII: Digitally Networked Field Studies, February 2017, Philadelphia, PA

Presenting-Philanthropy and Diversity at African American Museums, Fifth Exposure Seminar (The Dark Room Seminar), May 2017, Mount Holyoke College

Invited Guest Speaker, American History as African American History: Visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smith College visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, April 2017, Washington, D.C. 

Presenting-Is the Market for Contemporary African Art on the Rise?, Black Portraiture[s] III: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Culture, 17-19 November 2016, Turbine Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa

Panelist-Professional Development Workshop and Business Meeting: Navigating the Faculty/Post-Doc Job Market as a Cultural Sociologist, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, 20 August 2016, Seattle, Washington, 4:30 p.m.

Panelist-Conversation featuring Riché J. Daniel Barnes and her new book Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood, and Community (Rutgers 2016), 29 April 2016, Smith College, Neilson Browsing Room, 4:30 p.m.

Presenting-Intersectionality and the Market for Contemporary Art, Fourth Exposure Seminar (The Dark Room Seminar), 23 April 2016, Mount Holyoke College, Gamble Auditorium, 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Presenting-The Rise of Africa in the Contemporary Art Market: Myth or Reality?, The Art Market in a Global Perspective, 28 January 2016, University of Amsterdam

Interviewing-Touria El Glaoui, Founder 1:54: Contemporary African Art FairThe Art Market in a Global Perspective, 28 January 2016, University of Amsterdam

Presenting-Black Artists in the Art Market, Family & Friends Weekend, 25 October 2015, Mount Holyoke College, Hooker Auditorium, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 

Presenting-Prices for Art by Female and Male Artists of African Descent in the Auction Market, Section on Sociology of Culture Paper Session: Art, Money, and Meaning Panel, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, 24 August 2015, Chicago, IL.