Tag Archives: Newsletter

Chair’s Message (Winter 2021)

Derek Hyra
American University
2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

Let me start by wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and productive New Year. 2020 was nothing short of a high speed train wreck. The pandemic and continued police brutality brought on immeasurable suffering and loss, exposing once again the dire consequences of systemic racial inequality. Communities of color have been disproportionally affected by this virus and police aggression. Now more than ever our sociologically-informed, community and urban research is greatly needed, and I implore you to position your work to help fuel social justice efforts aimed at ameliorating racial and spatial inequality.

On the social justice front, the CUSS Council has taken action. First, in November 2019, the Council unanimously approved important by-law amendments. This year you will asked to vote on changes that, if approved, would establish a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. The DEI Committee, under the direction of an elected chair, will undertake activities to understand and reduce racial/ethnic disparities that exist within our section. The establishment of a DEI Committee would demonstrate our section’s steadfast commitment to fairness. I ask that you vote in favor of this timely and needed by-law change.

Second, while we regretfully cannot meet in person in Chicago this summer, our Council has proposed four themed sessions intended to highlight scholarship on important contemporary urban issues. We will have online sessions on the global uprisings and the Black Lives Matter movement; the pandemic and its impact on cities; emerging urban politics and policies; and critical perspectives on injustice embedded in our urban sociology traditions. My hope is that our 2021 ASA sessions will facilitate meaningful discourses both within and beyond the academy. Be sure to submit a paper for one of these sessions by February 3.

Third, our section’s journal, City & Community (C&C), has made strategic changes intended to advance diversity and inclusion. Richard E. Ocejo, C&C’s new editor, has refreshed the journal’s editorial leadership to include new people and perspectives. Moreover, the journal will implement an exciting professional development program for young scholars. This new program will serve as a systematic support structure, along with our section’s annual meeting mentoring initiative, to advance the next generation of talented urban sociologists.

No question, the pandemic has seriously challenged and tested us emotionally, financially, and physically; sadly, we have lost family members, friends, and colleagues. While we will not be together in Chicago this year to comfort one another (or to celebrate our successes), we should take solace in knowing we are part of a special group that produces knowledge to challenge and change our society for the better. Rest assured, in 2022 in Los Angeles, we will be together and we will lecture, laugh, and libate. Until then stay healthy, motivated, and safe! And do not forget to renew your CUSS membership and nominate your colleagues (or yourself) for one of our annual awards!

2020 Lynd Award: Lessons Learned: A Perspective from Golden Pond

Barrett Lee
Pennsylvania State University
2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

Being named the 2020 recipient of the Robert and Helen Lynd Award for Lifetime Achievement has been both gratifying and humbling, given the distinguished honorees who preceded me. I was taken by surprise when Kevin Gotham (the Lynd committee chair) first passed along the news last spring. That initial reaction quickly gave way to an appreciation of the award as a collective rather than solo accomplishment. From my undergraduate days to the present, I’ve had the good fortune to learn from and work with many talented and inspiring students, mentors, colleagues, and collaborators.

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What to Expect at City & Community

Richard E. Ocejo
John Jay College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

It is an absolute honor to be the next Editor-in-Chief at City & Community. The journal began publication around when I started graduate school, so there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t known of its existence. Whether from reading its pages, contributing as an author, or assigning its pieces in my courses, it has played an indispensable role in my career. And now getting to run City & Community at this stage in its history, build on the efforts of so many great Editors and scholars, and take it to another level is a dream come true.

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Teaching Urban Sociology in a Time of Mass Uprisings for Racial Justice and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Colleen E. Wynn
Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Indianapolis
2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

According to the US Census Bureau, the majority of Americans live in urban areas. And, as urban sociologists, we’ve known cities matter for a long time, but more and more we’re seeing the rest of society take note. Cities played a major role as the location and backdrop for the mass uprisings for racial justice we saw earlier this year, especially mid-sized cities in the South and Midwest that are often included but not highlighted in our scholarly work. George Floyd’s brutal murder by police in Minneapolis helped to spark the mass uprisings we saw earlier this year and the current civil rights movement, as did Breonna Taylor’s murder in her home by Louisville Metro Police in my hometown of Louisville. In Indianapolis, where I live and teach, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police shot and killed Dreasjon Reed and McHale Rose, two incidents which have not received as much national attention but have locally mobilized many activists. These are, of course, only a few cases. Activists and organizers across the country mobilized around these cases, as well as many others that have not received nearly as much national attention. 

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Message from Communications Team (Summer 2020)

2020 represented a significant change from how CUSS has managed communications to its members. This process began under our past chairs Miriam Greenberg and Rachel Dwyer. We have now shifted our focus away from a traditional PDF newsletter to a combination of email, our website (comurb.org), Facebook, and Twitter (@ComUrbASA). For instance, current chair Japonica Brown-Saracino has been sending out a monthly digest of section updates and announcements via the listserve. This digest is also posted on our Comurb.org and tweeted out by members of our team. While we are relying more on social media to get information out, we will be collecting items from the past year and posting a PDF. That way we can continue to have an archive of traditional newsletters, even as technology continues to evolve. It also continues the great work of Bill Holt, our newsletter letter editor since 2001.

As we move forward, we welcome suggestions as to how we can better serve CUSS members. This includes using the website to highlight the great work – advocacy, scholarship, and teaching – that is done by you all. We would love to post short essays or editorial-style pieces on Comurb.org. If you are interested, pitch us your ideas.

  • Albert Fu <afu@kutztown.edu>
  • Kyle Galindez <kgalinde@ucsc.edu>
  • Lora Phillips <laphillips216@gmail.com>
  • Steven Schmidt <stvnschmidt@gmail.com>

Chair’s Message

Japonica Brown-Saracino
Boston University
Summer 2020, Vol. 33, No. 2

Under ordinary circumstances, many of us would be preparing for travel to San Francisco.  We would be looking forward to gathering together, in person, at our sessions, business meeting, roundtables, and for a reception at the Tenderloin Museum.    I am certain that I am not alone in regretting the missed opportunity to engage with one another at our sessions, as well as to talk more informally in a variety of conference settings – from the book exhibit, to the crowded hallways where we would ordinarily gather between panels.

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2019 Lynd Award: My Mission as a Social Researcher: How I Remember It

Anne Shlay
Georgia State University
2020 Winter, Vol 33, No 1

At 20, I fell in love with the Russians, namely Russian literature.  The passion of Bolshevik poets whose public readings of their work drew the masses excited me.  I cherished the Russian literary thaw that produced the novels of post Stalinist writers and was heart-broken when they were silenced after the fall of Khrushchev.  I studied the Russian language in the hope that I could read Dr. Zhivago in the original.  Yet the inspiration of what became my life’s work came from Dostoyevsky, a writer from the 19th century.

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Editor’s Note (Summer 2019)

William Holt
Birmingham-Southern College
CUSS Newsletter, Vol 31, No 3

This edition of the CUSS Newsletter marks the end of my almost 20 years of serving as an editor. In 2001 I responded to a call for an editor  from then-Chair Barrett Lee. He contacted me on what seemed to be a typical Tuesday morning that I was to be co-editor with  Jennifer Stoloff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

      However, that Tuesday was anything but ordinary. On WCBS the announcers were complaining about how poorly the Giants played in the previous evening’s Monday Night Football Game. Then, during the weather report, the announcer mentioned that there appeared to be a small plane near the  World Trade Center. By the time I walked from my research job with the Yale Medical School to Lindsey-Chittenden Hall to teach Sociological Imagination, the introductory course, to a large lecture hall of undergraduates,  things had changed drastically. The  musicology professor who taught before my class always ran late. So, when I walked into the auditorium,  he had on the overhead with live tv coverages showing the maps of Washington, D.C. I had developed for the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) of the Monumental Core area between the White House and U.S. Capitol.  Secret Service agents ran through the building pulling then-undergraduate Barbara Bush out of L-C. Yale officials asked us to send the undergraduates back to their  residential colleges. They asked us to  volunteer to go over to Yale-New Haven Hospital, a designated center in case of a major disaster  in New York, to assist with triage for what they thought would be incoming  victims. Within hours Yale officials sent us  home since no one would be  arriving for treatments.  We had no idea how significant that day would be on so many levels.

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News & Notes

Announcements

  • Jean Beaman, is joining the faculty in the sociology department at the University of California-Santa Barbara in Fall 2019. She was previously on the faculty at Purdue University.
  • Judith R. Halasz, State University of New York at New Paltz, received the 2019 Research Mentor Award from the State University of New York at New Paltz for her extensive work supervising theses and undergraduate conference presentations. Each year, the interdisciplinary Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Committee selects one faculty member for this honor. Judy is the first sociologist at the institution to receive this award. Judy was also recently elected to chair the Community Research and Development Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems for 2019-2021.
  • Matthew H. McLeskey, University at Buffalo, SUNY, was awarded an Advanced Ph.D. Fellowship from the University at Buffalo’s Humanities Institute for his dissertation project, “Life in a Leaded Landscape: Understanding Housing, Stigma, and Struggle in the Rust Belt.” Lead exposure entails more than physiological and material consequences. Consequently, this dissertation documents the material and cultural processes defining the threat of lead exposure for tenants and landlords in disinvested communities to grasp how this urban epidemic further stigmatizes marginalized neighborhoods in post-industrial cities and contributes to debates on place-based stigmatization processes. Using Buffalo as a case of urban decline, multiple qualitative methods – semi-structured interviews, ethnographic observation, and archival research – are employed to capture the lived experience of “leaded life” in relegated areas.
  • Stacy Torres, University of California, San Francisco, is the 2019 recipient of the William Foote Whyte Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Sociological Practice and Public Sociology. The award recognizes a scholar who has made notable contributions to sociological practice and public sociology for the discipline and will be conferred in August at the ASA Annual Meeting in New York City.

Dissertations

Precarious Workers in the Speculative City: The Untold Gentrification Story of Tenant Shopkeepers’ Displacement and Resistance in Seoul

-Yewon Andrea Lee

University of Toronto

University of California, Los Angeles.

Dissertation Committee

-César Ayala (chair)

-Marcus Hunter

-Jennifer Chun

-Stefan Bargheer

Precarious Workers in the Speculative City: The Untold Gentrification Story of Tenant Shopkeepers’ Displacement and Resistance in Seoul demonstrates how the life chances of tenant shopkeepers in Seoul, Korea, have been critically compromised by the displacement and dispossession that accompany Korean-style gentrification. I focus on tenant shopkeepers as self-employed workers whose capacity to organize has been overlooked within both the labor literature on precarious workers and the urban literature on gentrification. The dissertation explores a classic sociological question first articulated by Marx: How and when can the spatial constraints of fragmented work experience of the self-employed be overcome to activate collective identity formation? Through both ethnographic as well as historical comparative research, the dissertation analyzes how spatial precarity—such as tenant shopkeepers’ lack of ownership rights to their shops, their crucial means of production—is transformed into unique spatial leverage in organizing. Especially, the dissertation identifies how the unprecedented commodification of urban space taking place in the Global South is paving the way for new locations of resistance and new vocabularies of rights challenging the status quo.

Publications

  • Dana Kornberg, University of Michigan, announces two new journal articles. First, 2019. “Garbage as Fuel: Pursuing Incineration to Counter Stigma in Postcolonial Urban India.” Local Environment  24(1): 1-17. http://doi.org/10.1080/  13549839.2018. 1545752. This paper explains why local leaders may adopt and promote forms f environmentalism that privilege aesthetic and class-based concerns, displacing environmentalisms of the poor that promote more socially just and sustainable practices. Presenting a case study from Delhi, India, I ask why centralized and mechanized approaches to garbage services, which included incineration or “waste-to-energy,” were promoted over manual recycling systems despite their unproven efficacy and significant expense. I argue that Indian leaders saw incineration as a mechanism for decontaminating garbage, and by association, de-stigmatizing the city’s reputation. Transforming a chaotic cluster of materials – garbage – into a singular object for incineration – fuel – allowed Indian bureaucrats and managers, who tend to be upper-caste men, to claim and profit from materials that are recycled by lower-caste and Muslim informal workers. Second, with Amy Kings and Erin Lane. 2019. “Organizing Under Austerity: How Flint Residents’ Concerns Became the Flint Water Crisis.” Critical Sociology 45(4-5): 583597. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920518757053. What might it take for politically marginalized residents to challenge cuts in public spending that threaten their health and wellbeing? Specifically, how did residents of Flint, Michigan contribute to the decision of an austerity regime that was not accountable to them to spend millions to switch to a safe water source? We examine the influence and limitations of residents and grassroots groups during the 18-month period between April 2014 and October 2015 when the city drew its water from the Flint River. We find that citizen complaints alone were not sufficient, but their efforts resulted in partnerships with researchers whose evidence bolstered their claims, thus inspiring a large contribution from a local foundation to support the switch to a clean water source. Thus, before the crisis gained national media attention, and despite significant constraints, residents’ sustained organization—coupled with scientific evidence that credentialed local claims—motivated the return to the Detroit water system. The Flint case suggests that residents seeking redress under severe austerity conditions may require partnerships with external scientific elites.

  • Chris Tilly, University of California, Los Angeles, co-authored with Marie Kennedy “Field education and community-based planning in a worst-case scenario,” Journal of Planning Education and Research, Online First https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X19847725, May 2019. Community-engaged planning education and community-based planning are often uphill battles. This article uses the case of a Mexican village to illustrate a pedagogical model that trains students as participatory planners by immersing them in a community-based planning project, an approach we call transformative learning and community development. We join larger debates on education and participation—arguing that students can and should learn about participatory planning by doing it; that while community participation sometimes reproduces unequal power relations, it can also be structured to challenge them; and that successful planning and teaching require a dialectic between expertise and broad participation.

NEW COVER: City & Community

Kyle Galindez
University of California, Santa Cruz

Steven Schmidt
University of California, Irvine

Interview with Deirdre Oakley, Editor-in-Chief, City & Community

CUSS Newsletter, 2019 Spring, Vol. 32, No 2

-City & Community recently debuted a new cover for the March 2019 volume. What motivated the redesign?

When I became editor in 2018, the original cover design was 16 years old and I thought it was time for a new look. I also found out that Wiley, our publisher, would work with me and my on-site editorial staff on a new design free-of-charge. At the time, the Section’s Chair (Miriam Greenberg) and Publication Committee’s co-chairs (Heather MacIndoe and Japonica Brown-Saracino were supportive of the idea), as was ASA.

-Can you tell me about your editorial vision for the new cover?

There is a form of cityscape art called original line/pencil illustration or rendering. I was familiar with British Illustrator Abi Daker’s work (http://www.abigaildaker.com) and found it inspiring. This is because, symbolically, the contributions to City & Community ‘draw’ cities and the communities within them (both past and present) to reveal unique visions of previously uncovered productions.

One of the urban themes I learned when I was pursuing my master’s degree in geography in the early 1990s was that of the city as a palimpsest. This historic word originally referred to the reuse of parchment for the written word during the 1500s. Basically, with parchment, the previous text — while erased – bled through the new text. We could liken this practice today to what happens with graffiti. But back to history, the term palimpsest began to be used more broadly in the realm of urbanism to illustrate the multiple layers of the city, whether it’s about changes over time, the way different groups perceive their city, placemaking and de-placemaking, infrastructure, inequality (ethnic, racial or socioeconomic), as well as how such aspects of the urban environs are imagined. While it’s virtually impossible to convey the city palimpsest surface in a static cover design, that’s the foundational idea behind our new cover: a rendering of some generic city in line/pencil illustration form, which fades into the distance representing the present, past and future. Fortunately, we had the option for two colors to distinguish the journal title from the artwork.

The Wiley design team is confined to working with stock art (no this is not Daker’s work!), so it took some back and forth to get the image in line with what I wanted it to convey. They did a great job, for which we are all very appreciative. I am also grateful for the quick turn-around time for cover redesign approval by our Section leadership as well as the ASA.

On behalf of the entire on-site GSU Editorial Team, I’ll just say we hope you all like our new cover!

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