Mellon Forum on the Urban Environment: DIVIDED CITIES with V. Mitch McEwen and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
November 19 / 12pm / SoA South Gallery
Cites are amphorous, at times unwieldy, entities unified by shared narratives of inhabitants and visitors about their history, landmarks, culinary traditions or sports teams. But communities and narratives are multiple and, at times, outright conflicting. Division can literally derive from physical barriers, from natural (rivers or hills) to manmade (walls or fences). But most barriers are not physical, and are born from politics, race, religion, and economics. How narratives reveal or conceal urban division will be at the core of this session.
V. Mitch McEwen joined the faculty of the Princeton School of Architecture in fall 2017 from the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, where she had been an assistant professor since 2014. She is principal of McEwen Studio and co-founder of A(n) Office, an architecture collaborative of studios in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn. McEwen's design work has been awarded grants from the Graham Foundation, Knight Foundation, and New York State Council on the Arts. A(n) Office and McEwen Studio projects have been commissioned by the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the Istanbul Design Biennial. McEwen Studio projects in Detroit have produced a series of operations on houses previously owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority, including a combined residence and flower incubator for an engineer at 3M; a strategy for 100 houses selected by the City of Detroit to densify the Fitzgerald neighborhood; and an award-winning repurposing of a balloon-frame house titled House Opera. Her work in urban design and architecture began at Bernard Tschumi Architects and the New York City Department of City Planning, as well as founding the Brooklyn-based non-profit SUPERFRONT.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is Assistant Professor and Charles H. Mcilwain University Preceptor in Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Haymarket Books, 2016), an examination of the history and politics of Black America and the development of the social movement Black Lives Matter in response to police violence in the United States. Taylor has received the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book. Taylor’s most recent book, How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, also with Haymarket Books (2017) won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction. Her forthcoming book, Race for Profit: Black Homeownership and the End of the Urban Crisis (North Carolina, 2019), looks at the federal government's promotion of single-family homeownership in Black communities after the urban rebellions of the 1960s. She looks at how the federal government's turn to market-based solutions in its low-income housing programs in the 1970s impacted Black neighborhoods, Black women on welfare, and emergent discourses on the urban “underclass”. Taylor is interested in the role of private sector forces, typically hidden in public policy making and execution, in the “urban crisis” of the 1970s.
The event is made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Princeton University Humanities Council, Center for Collaborative History, Department of Art + Archaeology and Program in American Studies.