Category Archives: Blog

Bronx Times on “Narrating Our Neighborhood: The Melrose Oral History Project”

Check out the Bronx Times for a recent story about “Narrating Our Neighborhood: The Melrose Oral History Project,” a collaboration between the Urban Democracy Lab and the Women’s House and Economic Development Corporation:

“This partnership (between WHEDco and NYU’s Gallatin School) helped our students build strong connections with the community – who had a lot of material to share with us,” said Dr. Rebecca Amato . . . “With this project, the students instantly fell in love with the (Melrose) neighborhood – and the residents who have lived here for decades.” . . .

“You could feel and understand the presence of history here – and this was a great opportunity for the students to acknowledge the residents’ previously unknown and untold stories,” she added. “You can also feel the residents’ commitment to their neighborhood and to each other – they are very proud of where they come from.”

Read the full article here.

Welcome to the Occupation: Squatting and Resistance from Berlin to New York

On Monday, April 17th, The Urban Democracy Lab and Deutsches Haus at NYU presented a panel, “Welcome to the Occupation: Squatting and Resistance from Berlin to New York” to discuss urban precarity, squatting, and urban social movements. Panelists included cultural anthropologist Amy Starecheski, writer/activist and former squatter Frank Morales and Associate Professor in Human Geography Alexander Vasudevan. Geographer Pierpaolo Mudu moderated the event. Continue reading

Fight for the Living City: A Multigenerational Conversation

Fight for the City FlyerFrom our friends at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU:

Fight for the Living City: A Multigenerational Conversation
Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU
Tuesday May 16th 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Eventbrite RSVP
Facebook Event

How can New York City activists and organizers collaborate and learn from each other across generations and neighborhoods? What can we do to preserve our work and create living, breathing archives that empower our communities and extend our efforts? Fight for the Living City is a moderated conversation about the importance of utilizing the lessons of past organizing campaigns to inform our present and future practices.

Organized by the curators of the ongoing exhibition Lost Streets: Seward Park’s Fight for Housing Justice, this gathering will use the five-decade battle over the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area as a jumping off point to engage with issues of housing justice, cultural activism, police violence, worker’s rights, and what constitutes real “quality of life” in working class and immigrant communities across the city. Continue reading

On “Black Palestinian Solidarity in an Age of Struggle”

blackpalestinesolidarityThis past weekend I watched J.Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only. It is a short 2016 documentary that consists of J.Cole rapping songs from his most recent album of the same name, spliced with footage from his travels through Greensboro, Alabama, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Ferguson, Missouri. From the documentary two scenes stand out. The first is when J.Cole’s house is raided by a SWAT team because his neighbors suspected him to be a drug dealer. Ten heavily armed officers, with rifles and bulletproof vests, bang down his front door and shift his security cameras so their actions will remain unseen. The second scene shows J.Cole attempting to find Mike Brown’s memorial. He runs into Mike Brown’s older cousin, who chauffeurs him to the memorial. These two experiences highlight themes of racial discrimination and government militarization. More interesting that the documentary itself was considering J.Cole’s experiences and these themes alongside the February panel “When I See Them, I See Us: Black Palestinian Solidarity in an Age of Struggle,” part of NYU Gallatin’s Black History Month. Continue reading

Review: Economic Crisis and Democracy in Brazil – A Talk by Dilma Rousseff

A_presidente_Dilma_Rousseff_durante_cerimônia_contra_o_impeachment_em_31_de_março_de_2016Brazil is a nation of great political turmoil. From the dark years of the military dictatorship to continuous corruption and failed economic policies, Brazil is as famous for its political struggles as it is for caipirinhas. On Wednesday, April 12th, impeached President Dilma Rousseff gave a talk at The New School about economic crisis and democracy in Brazil.

Dilma Rousseff was the first female president of Brazil from 2011 until her impeachment in 2016. An economist, politician, and member of the Worker’s Party (PT), she won the democratic election with 54 million votes. But as any president of a nation, Dilma’s politics are highly contested and divide millions across Brazil. While she is popular for programs like Luz Para Todos (Light For All), which made electricity widely available, she is highly criticized for corruption, such as her involvement in the Petrobras scandal. Her alleged hiding of budgetary deficits to win re-election in 2014 and poor economic policies that contributed to severe recession led to her impeachment in 2016, putting “dracula” Michel Temer, as one person in the Audience called him, in the Presidential seat. Continue reading

Report on UDL Teach-In: Gentrification

With dramatic shifts like rent hikes, sprawling urban redevelopment, and tenant displacement occurring throughout the world’s cities, the Urban Democracy Lab’s Student Advisory Board hosted a teach-in at the Gallatin student lounge on March 21st pertaining to the topic of gentrification. In order to unpack the term that is so frequently discussed by both academics and urbanites all around the world, the Student Advisory Board hosted a panel featuring NYU Wagner Professor Jewell Jackson McCabe, Gallatin Professor and Urban Democracy Lab Associate Director Becky Amato, and Gallatin Junior Anamika Jain. Aree Worawongwasu of the Urban Democracy Lab Student Advisory Board moderated. Continue reading

Dadaab is a Place on Earth: Interview with Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi

Dadaab Is a Place on EarthAnooradha Iyer Siddiqi is a professor at Gallatin and is organizing and participating in the event, “Dadaab Is A Place on Earth: Architecture in the Twilight of the World’s Largest Refugee Camp,” on April 18th, 2017, 6:00-8:00 pm at 20 Cooper Square, 2nd floor. I sat down with her for a brief interview about the event and the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

More information on the event can be found here: http://urbandemos.nyu.edu/event/dadaab-is-a-place-on-earth-architecture-in-the-twilight-of-the-worlds-largest-refugee-camp/

Can you tell me briefly about Dadaab and the history of the region?

In 1991, the UNHCR and the government of Kenya established a refugee camp near the village of Dadaab, Kenya, to accommodate a massive influx of refugees after the collapse of Siad Barre’s regime in Somalia. This settlement, established for 30,000 refugees, has since expanded into five settlements in a permanent humanitarian complex housing half a million refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, and aid workers. Dadaab is situated in a borderland between Somalia and Kenya and it is a part of Kenya that’s ethnically Somali. It’s a much less developed region than the rest of Kenya. Continue reading

Review of “Humanizing Data: Data, Humanities, and the City”

Photo by Julian Chambliss
Photo by Julian Chambliss

A variety of activists, community organizers, academics and data practitioners came together on Cooper Square this past weekend for a day-long symposium called “Humanizing Data: Data, Humanities, and the City.” Co-sponsored by the Urban Democracy Lab, NYU Gallatin, NYU Shanghai Center for Data Science and Analytics, Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, and the Institute for Public Knowledge, the April 8 event explored how urban humanities can be both enhanced and complicated by innovative data-centric, digitized projects. Continue reading

Is New York’s Future Sustainable? Measuring the Historical Impact of Growth, and Planning for More

An upcoming event sponsored by our friends at the Gotham Center for New York City History at The Graduate Center of CUNY:

Wednesday, April 19th, 6:30 – 8 PM
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Elebash Recital Hall (Ground Floor)
​ 
Ted Steinberg, distinguished professor at Case Western Reserve, talks about Gotham Unbound, his award-winning environmental history of greater New York, and the limits of “sustainable” planning. ​
Michael Sorkin, recipient of the 2013 National Design Award, and president of Terreform, a non-profit dedicated to just and sustainable urbanism, shares his recommendations for a greener Big Apple.
Nilda Mesa, director of urban sustainability and equity planning at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, reflects on her experiences as NYC’s first Director of Sustainability, and the political challenges ahead.
Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter for WNYC, moderates.

Visit full event site here

Love Thy Neighbor? — Public Housing, The Tafelberg Saga, and the Future of Integration in Cape Town

District Six

Based on research conducted in Cape Town, South Africa throughout July and August 2016, under institutional support from NYU Africa House

Central to Jewish ethics is the age-old adage, “love thy neighbor.” Religious leader Hillel is said to have described this as “the whole of the Torah,” even calling the rest “commentary.” But in Sea Point—an affluent and densely-populated suburb of Cape Town, South Africa—the phrase took on new meaning last spring, when called upon during a land battle which unfolded between parents advocating for a Jewish day school and activists campaigning for public housing development. Since dubbed the Tafelberg Saga, the dispute has come to exemplify the necessity for innovative approaches to race, space, and distribution in Cape Town. Almost 3 decades post-apartheid, supposedly-integrative policy has done little for the city’s native African population—much of which still dwells in slums spotting the periphery of a bustling city bowl. Continue reading

Gray Space and Creeping Urban Apartheid

Picture1By 2030, 2 billion people will live in unrecognized conditions or “gray spaces.” This proliferation of slums and informal settlements are part of a growing trend across the world, but particularly in the Global South in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta, and even Israel-Palestine. Oren Yiftachel is a Geography and Urban Studies professor at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. His lecture at the Hagop Kevorkian Center at NYU on February 16th entitled “Gray Space and Creeping Urban Apartheid: Learning from Israel-Palestine” offers an intimate look at the premise of his new book, which analyzes the neocolonialism of modern unrecognized settlements in Israel-Palestine as well as how they mirror larger trends of displacement across the globe. Yiftachel’s call for a more flexible definition of citizenship is put into practice by Karen Lee Bar-Sinai, an Israeli architect who designs urban plans for the two-state solution. Her work provides an urban planner’s take on what these changes can look like. Continue reading

“Aquí estamos y no nos vamos”: Combatting Construction as Tenant Harassment

dianareyna
Diana Reyna speaking at Brooklyn borough hall

A large crowd gathered at Brooklyn Borough Hall on January 31st to relay their experiences and frustrations with tenant harassment to city officials. The event, organized by Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) and their coalition, saw an amalgamation of tenants, family members, tenants rights activists, and government workers. The voices of the aggrieved tenants took center stage as the event began with personal accounts of tenant harassment. The use of construction work as harassment has become increasingly prevalent in recent years as areas in Brooklyn gentrify and rental prices rise. Many of these tenants occupy rent stabilized units, which are protected by the government and stipulate that the rent may only rise by certain state sanctioned percentages and that landlords cannot evict a tenant without proper cause.  However, landlords in search of profits implement illegal practices to remove tenants by making their apartments unlivable through invasive construction. Continue reading