Banks’ research focuses on culture and social boundaries. Overarching themes in Banks’ writings include museum patronage and diversity, art collecting and identity, and inclusion in the art market. Banks serves cultural organizations, and non-profits more broadly, concerned with philanthropy, diversity, and inclusion.
Provides a case study of race and big-gift cultural patronage, a theoretically and empirically understudied phenomenon, by investigating million-dollar museum donations by black patrons. Elaborates how strategic acculturation along with cultural steering help to explain black cultural consumption.
Draws on over 80 in-depth interviews with supporters. Takes readers inside the world of cultural patronage to reveal why supporters give their time, talent, and treasure to black museums. Reveals why black museums matter in the eyes of supporters. Complicates the conventional view that social class drives giving to cultural nonprofits.
Investigates claims of a contemporary African art boom. Draws on an original archive of artworks offered at Christie’s New York to trace the evolution of works by African artists in the art market. Finds a rise in sales by African-born artists, but not enough to constitute a "boom".
Draws on ethnographic and archival data to investigate how black middle-class organizations donate to black museums to help reshape historical narratives about African Americans.
Builds on cultural capital theory to elaborate how culture’s importance for class and ethnic cohesion is rooted in the separate spheres of arts philanthropy among black and white elites.
Examines cultural capital within black middle-class families. Uses in-depth interviews with black middle-class parents to cast light on the ways that black middle-class parents approach their children’s socialization in the fine arts.
Draws on over 100 in-depth interviews, observations at arts events, and photographs of art displayed in homes to elaborate a racial identity theory of consumption. Documents how the salience of race extends into the cultural life of even the most socioeconomically successful blacks.