Chair’s Message

Miriam Greenberg
UC Santa Cruz
CUSS Newsletter, Summer 2018, Vol 30, No 3

I am excited to see many of you in Philadelphia at our upcoming CUSS panels, business meeting, reception and related sessions and events.  Given the fraught state of our nation, its cities and communities, I find myself thinking more and more that the work we in CUSS do —as researchers and writers, teachers and mentors, citizens of academic departments and sections, and publicly engaged scholars— has never been more vital.  Core CUSS concerns intersect with and illuminate so many of the most contested issues of the day: immigration and citizenship, race and socio-spatial inequality, culture and representation, urbanization and the environment, social movements and the right to city.  Through our conversations about this work at our panels, gatherings, and mentorship meetings, we elevate modes of discourse—critical inquiry, collective support, and engaging across difference—that seem increasingly anathema to those in power, here and around the world.  And where better than the City of Brotherly Love to come together and have these conversations; collectively interrogate our current conjuncture, its history and possible futures; and celebrate and enliven the work and vision of our section?

So first I want to invite you all to join us at the CUSS Reception on Monday night 6:30-8:30 at Volver, 300 South Broad Street, where we will schmooze, and celebrate CUSS over tapas, sangria, and other drinks (and thanks to Rory Kramer for help in finding this lovely place).

I then want to devote my final Chair’s Message to encouraging everyone to engage in multiple aspects of our meetings in Philly.  The Newsletter provides details on our four fabulous official sessions, but just to underscore, our big CUSS days are Monday and Tuesday. On Monday we have our first two panels: “Sociological Perspectives on the Affordable Housing Crisis, “ 8:30-10:10, organized by Jacob W. Faber, Brian J. McCabe,  Eva Rosen, and “The Social and Cultural Construction of Places,” 4:30-6:10, organized by Robin Bartram, Japonica Brown-Saracino, Ryan Centner, and Jeffrey Nathaniel Parker. On Tuesday we have our Roundtables, 8:30-10:10, organized by Antwan Jones and Chandra Ward; our Council Meeting (for Council members) 10:30-11:30; Business Meeting, 11:30-12:10; and final panels. These include “Feeling Race, and Spatial Inequalities, 50 Years After the Kerner Commission Report,” 12:30-2:10, organized by Chase Billingham, Rahim Kurwa, and Brandi Thompson Summers; and “Reconceptualizing Cities from a Global and Comparative Perspective,” 2:30-4:10, organized by Ernesto Castañeda, American University; Xuefei Ren.  A huge thanks to the organizers of the panels and roundtables

In addition, many section members and fellow travelers are participating in important sessions that show the reach of CUSS themes—and their intersection with this year’s conference theme of “feeling race.”  As always, regional spotlight sessions will also be of broad interest. Some sessions I would highlight include:

On Saturday: “Hidden Vulnerabilities: Ethnography, Emotions, and Inner City Men”  (8:30-10:10), “Feeling Race and Public Sociology” (also 8;30-10:10), “The Philadelphia Negro Then and Now” (10:30-12;10), “The Ferguson Effect” (2:30-4:10), and “Space and Place in the Urban Environment” (4:30-6:10).

On Sunday: “Social/Environmental Interactions and the Urban/Rural Divide” (10:30-12:10) and “Inequality in the Philadelphia Region” (2:30-4:10).

On Monday, not conflicting with our sessions, there’s a regional spotlight organized by our own Christopher Mele, “Race and Space in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Region: Lessons in Segregation, Exclusion, and Integration” (2:30-4:10)

On Tuesday, a few relevant sessions unfortunately conflict with our events, but a couple merit a mention given the role of our members in them. This includes the Special Session organized by Gregory Squires on “The Fight for Fair Housing: Causes, Consequences, and Future Implications of the 1968 Fair Housing Act” (10:30-12:10). Those of you not on Council can see the first 45 minute of this, and then run to the Business meeting.  Also on Tuesday are a number of local tours led by CUSS members, including notably, “In the Footsteps of Du Bois: From the Old 7th Ward to the Cosmopolitan Canopy” led by Elijah Anderson (10:00-1:00).

I also wanted to flag a few big things that will be happening at our CUSS Business Meeting on Tuesday.  First of course is the presentation of our awards. Please come and celebrate awardees and their achievements — as well as the hard work of our colleagues on the award committees!  We will also share regular business. This includes:  an announcement of the State of the Journal by our new City & Community editor, Deirdre Oakley; a welcome to our incoming CUSS Chair Rachel Dwyer and new leadership elected this Spring —including Chair-elect Japonica Brown Saracino, new council members and publications committee members, and a thanks to our outgoing Council and committee members as well as to all who continue to serve in leadership.

In addition, I will be announcing and inviting feedback on some exciting new initiatives that we on CUSS Council and the Membership and Publications Committees have been working on throughout this past year.  Two of these will involve CUSS bylaw changes, in order to: create a new CUSS Committee on Mentorship, so as to formalize what has become over the last two years an vital means of supporting and expanding our junior membership, and

add two additional CUSS awards, alternating annually— a “Teaching Award in Community and Urban Sociology” and a “Publicly engaged Scholarship Award”—  so as to go beyond research to recognize members for their work in the classroom and community.

We will also be discussing a new, ad hoc “Media and Publications Subcommittee,” which will help expand participation in the CUSS Newsletter and launch a new CUSS Website through the creation of new assistant editor positions, as well as strategies for outreach and distribution via traditional and new media.

The Business Meeting is a great opportunity to put faces to names of all those who keep the work of the section running all year, and to learn of ways to get involved. We will be circulating sign-up sheets for those who would like to volunteer in a variety of ways, from writing articles for the Newsletter to serving on award committees.

Finally, I wanted to give a heartfelt thanks to the many colleagues who made serving as Chair such an inspiring experience this year, and who contributed to our section in innumerable ways.  This includes those on CUSS Council—Ernesto Castaneda, Andrew Deener, Bruce Haynes, LaShawnda Pittman, Elena Veselinov, Rachael Woldoff, Emily Yen, and Treasurer Mary Fischer;  those on the Membership Committee—Victoria Reyes (chair), Albert Fu and Emily Thumpson Molina; Publications—Heather MacIndoe and Japonica Brown Saracino (co-chairs), Nikki Jones, Ann Owens, Richard Ocejo, and Robert Adelman.  All of these members helped conceive of, research, and shape our new initiatives. And along these lines a special thanks to Newsletter editor Bill Holt, Albert Fu, Richard Ocejo, and Ray Hutchison, who, together with Council, helped us launch a new era in CUSS’ media presence.

I also wanted to express appreciation for all who served on our award committees, including for the Lynd Lifetime Achievement Award, Jan Lin (chair), Prentiss Dantzler, and Sharon Zukin; for the Robert Park Book Award, Forrest Stuart (chair), Hillary Angelo, Greggor Matson, Brian McCabe, and Xuefei Ren; for the Jane Addams Article Award, Ryan Centner (chair), Judy Halasz, Max Holleran, Junia Howell, and Richard Ocejo; for the CUSS Student Paper Award Zaire Dinzey Flores (chair), Jerome Hodos, Jacob Lederman, and  Brandi Thompson Summers.

And finally enormous gratitude to the past chairs —Ray Huthchison, Kevin Fox Gotham, and Deirdre Oakley— for fielding my many questions and filling me in on crucial aspects CUSS history.

And to all of you, I look forward to regrouping, and plotting out ways forward for the section collectively. See you in Philadelphia!

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