Please join us in welcoming Phil Ashton (Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago)

By , April 26, 2012 11:14 am
Please join us in welcoming Phil Ashton (Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Thursday, May 3

SS 122 from 12:00-1:20

‘Placing’ the Financial State of Emergency

The study of financial regulation was among the foundations of urban political economy, which developed a significant vocabulary to conceptualize the role of the state in producing particular forms of social and spatial hierarchy through its postwar regulation of credit. However, this vocabulary has had to evolve through different phases in the development of financial markets, marked since the early 1970s by increasingly volatile international financial flows and the emergence of ‘stateless money.’ This sets the context for this paper, in which I seek to extend an analysis of financial regulation to better understand its contemporary role in structuring the ‘urban problematic’ (Dymski, 2009). I begin by charting changing state strategies relative to credit since the 1970s, arguing that the restructuring of US housing finance has followed a trajectory marked by increasing use of lender-of-last resort and other emergency powers. I then turn to the detailed practices of emergency interventions, arguing that their distinctive orientation towards the circulation of financial risk has made them constitutive of new social structures and spatialities of risk.

I make this argument by examining two critical moments in the recent history of US housing finance: the emergence of the subprime mortgage market out of the late 1980s banking crisis; and the extraordinary interventions of post-2007. A close analysis of these interventions demonstrates that they employ financial instruments and techniques to segment financial institutions and borrowers according to the risks they pose to bank or government balance sheets. As many of these techniques directly map onto earlier configurations of credit risk, emergency interventions come to function as their own form of financial exception or triage – isolating borrower segments or neighborhoods where the speculative development of markets came to ground in the most severe fashion. The results suggest how interventions to secure the safety and soundness of the financial system are setting in motion new geographies of uneven development

LaShandra P. Sullivan (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology)

By , April 16, 2012 10:01 am

Please join us in welcoming LaShandra P. Sullivan (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology). 

Thursday, April 19

SS 122 from 12:00-1:20

Protest Camps and Agroindustrial Rurality-Urbanity in Brazil

Prior to democratization in 1988, Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1988) used explicit authoritarian violence to limit the terms for politics and economic organization.  In alliance with large landholders, the government favored a capital-intensive agro-industrial model in the countryside that displaced millions of rural inhabitants in favor of export-oriented monocrop production. In Mato Grosso do Sul particularly, the production of cattle, soy, and especially sugarcane for ethanol fuel drove massive urbanization and proletarianization. Today, former peasants and subsequent generations return to rural areas as day laborers, commuting back and forth from city peripheries to work for the agro-industrial firms that now dominate the countryside. My paper focuses on the land reform protest camps of indigenous Gurani people that dot rural roadsides and “occupy” plantations in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. The camps are a political tactic to gain state recognition of indigenous land rights.  Protest camps consist of people that have moved out of (or circulate between) cities, reservations, and rural work sites. Consisting of ramshackle, make-shift dwellings, these camps present another kind of return to the countryside, one in which people seek to reclaim the countryside as a site of political struggle. I argue that, importantly, these camps do not challenge the legitimacy of the state itself. Instead they both appear to breach politics-as-usual and conform with a form of politics in which “insurgency” operates within the frame for mainstream political action.  However, the camps become viewed as an offensive, potentially mortal threat to the political and economic order by undermining the seemingly settled organization of space.

Please join us in welcoming Professor Jens Ludwig (McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law, and Public Policy, University of Chicago).

By , January 5, 2012 7:04 pm

Monday, January, 9 2012
12:00-1:20 in SS 302 *

Neighborhood effects on low-income families:

Long-term results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment

The question of whether, how and why neighborhood environments influence the life chances of individuals and families has been of long-standing interest to social scientists. The main empirical challenge to answering this question arises from the fact that families typically have at least some degree of choice over where they live, which creates difficulties disentangling the effects of neighborhood environments from those of hard-to-measure individual and family level attributes associated with both residential location and other outcomes of interest. This talk will report on the new long-term findings from the HUD Moving to Opportunity (MTO) residential mobility experiment, which starting in 1994 randomly assigned public housing families the chance to use a housing voucher to move to a less distressed neighborhood. Outcomes come from in-person data collection in the domains of physical and mental health, employment, schooling, and delinquency, measured 10-15 years after random assignment.

* Please note earlier time and room change. 

Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Jefferis Terrien in SS 401 from 12:15-1:20 on Monday October 17.

By , October 16, 2011 9:36 pm

Elizabeth Jefferis Terrien is a PhD student in Sociology.

Cultural Conditions of City Park Use

Cultural differences within communities have different policy implications for cities. This comparative case study of two neighborhoods in Los Angeles and two in Chicago, selected on the basis of their observed divergent dog ownership practices, is used to develop a grounded theory about dogs as cultural indicators and urban community identifiers.  Humans have cohabitated with domesticated dogs for millennia yet it is one of the most under-studied relationships in the social sciences.  Original research and analysis of over 100 in-depth interviews, 200 hours of site observation in the community and local parks, photographs, and periodicals theorizes about individual dog-caretaker relationships and situates them within a community of dog caretakers in urban neighborhoods, and then further situates them within the larger municipal authorities of the LA Department of Recreation and Parks, Chicago Park District, LA Animal Services, Chicago Animal Care and Control, political leaders, and police.  Misunderstandings of the relationships between recent Latino immigrants, African Americans, the homeless, and upper middle class owners and their dogs illustrate the impact of beliefs and feelings about dogs on modern urban life.

Please join us in welcoming Amy Khare (10/3/2011) in SS 401 from 12:20-1:20

By , September 30, 2011 12:30 pm

Amy Khare is a PhD student in the School of Social Service Administration.

Participation, deliberation, and decision-making: The dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in mixed-income developments

(Co-authored with Dr. Robert Chaskin and Dr. Mark Joseph)

Abstract: This paper explores the mechanisms, processes, and dynamics of participation and deliberation in three newly created, heterogeneous mixed-income communities being built on the footprint of former public housing developments in Chicago.  Our findings reflect enduring dilemmas about the challenge of democratic participation and representation for low-income citizens in the context of public housing reform efforts. Fundamental tension exists between two orientations to organizing participation, one that privileges “mainstreaming” public housing resident participation into market and civil society, and another that suggests the continuing need for separate mechanisms that maximize public housing resident representation.  In this paper, we frame the theoretical debates over the potential for establishing effective mechanisms to promote deliberative democracy at a neighborhood-level. We then explore how participatory mechanisms are viewed by key stakeholders, provide an overview of the participatory landscape, and examine how the organization of opportunities for deliberation and emerging patterns of participation shape dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in these contexts.  Based on these findings, we suggest implications for policy and governance initiatives aimed at promoting deliberative democracy at a neighborhood-level.



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