Lecture: Why there is no Detroit in Canada – Jason Hackworth – Despite significant structural similarities, Canadian and American Rust Belt cities have very different levels of land abandonment. Though the Canadian Rust Belt has experienced significant deindustrialization, suburbanization, wealth disparities and localist politics, no city has faced abandonment of the magnitude found in Detroit. To launch our Fall lecture series, Jason Hackworth, Professor of Planning and Geography at the University of Toronto will discuss the uneven geography of extreme land abandonment in the North American Rust Belt, considering why such a vast difference in land abandonment exists between the Canadian and American contexts. His argument centers on the role of race, but in a way that challenges Canadian exceptionalist narratives about the ostensible lack of racial discrimination in that country. Instead, Hackworth argues that toxic racial discrimination took place (and continues to take place) on both sides of the border, but the American form has very directly contributed to land abandonment, while the Canadian form has emphasized exclusion from the country altogether.

September 21, 2018 4:15PM

Rackham East Conference Room, 4th Floor // Rackham Building

Lecture: Cultivating Cultural Origins and the Changing Responsibility of
the Urban Planning Profession – Jessica Brooke Williams
 – As Urban Planners work to revitalize cities, a common practice is to imbue a place with a distinct cultural identity to be embraced and performed by the community. These efforts often burden area residents with cultural displacement or at the very least exist without a clear cultural foundation. This burden can cause or exacerbate longstanding socio-economic challenges and imbalances in urban redevelopment. At this event, Jessica Brooke Williams – an urban planner, evaluator and scholar of American and African diasporic history and art and author featured in, Why Detroit Matters: Decline, Renewal and Hope in a Divided City – discusses her ongoing research into how the city’s official planning documents have historically ignored the arts and culture of Detroit’s resident-majority African-American populations, and argues that planning efforts that are infused with art and creative utilitarian practices can act as a catalyst for community revitalization by reconnecting the resident majority to experiences that inspire a stronger sense of self, others, and the land around them.

RESCHEDULED: November 16, 2018 4:15PM

1110 Weill Hall, Betty Ford Classroom // Ford School

Panel Event: Post-Crisis Housing Markets and Housing Insecurity -The foreclosure crisis continues to reverberate over a decade on. The massive upheaval in neighborhoods and housing markets entrenched a speculative class of real estate investors using a variety of tools to exploit low income communities and extract profit. Join us for the first Detroit School event hosted at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where a panel of academics, activists, and journalists working on issues of housing insecurity in Detroit and other low income markets will discuss what they are seeing on the ground, forms of mobilization and resistance that have been effective, and trends and approaches in the near and long term. Panelist will include ACORN Founder Wade Rathke who is currently running the multi-city Homesaver Campaign organizing contract buyers; Detroit journalist Allie Gross; Detroit journalist Christine MacDonald; and Dr. Eric Seymour, from the Brown Population Studies and Training Center. The event will be moderated by Joshua Akers from Urban Praxis Workshop at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

November 29, 2018 6:00 PM

University of Michigan – Dearborn
Rm 1030 // College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Building (CB on map)
4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48128

Lecture: Why Detroit Matters: Detroit’s Relevance to International Scholars – Brian Doucet Detroit has attracted global attention because of dramatic images of its ruins and abandonment. For several years while working in Rotterdam, Brian Doucet – Associate Professor, School of Planning at the University of Waterloo, Ontario – took students from the Netherlands to Detroit to better understand not only what happened to the city, but also how the lessons from its long decline and uneven contemporary revival are relevant to international audiences trying to better understand wider process of urban change. These trips led to the publication of Why Detroit Matters: Decline, renewal and hope in a divided city, which portrays Detroit as an extreme, but by no means unique city. In this talk, Professor Doucet will discuss why Detroit is relevant for international scholars and students by addressing the challenges and opportunities of being an outsider when visiting, and researching Detroit. 

December 6, 2018 4:15 PM

Boulevard Room, Pierpont Commons //  North Campus, University of Michigan

Friday, February 22: Urban Decline and the Rise of Property Informality in Detroit – Claire Herbert  Informal urbanism has long been a central focus of research on cities of the global South. But such frameworks have largely been avoided by scholars in the United States, perhaps driven by perceptions that informality is not a phenomenon found in the global North, especially in a country with powerful governance structures and regulatory regimes. Yet in Detroit, de jure illegal uses of property such as scrapping, squatting, gardening, and even demolition are commonplace. When authorities and residents choose not to invoke the law to regulate these activities and even accept or promote them in their neighborhoods, it is no longer useful or productive to interpret these practices from the perspective of law. In this talk, Claire Herbert (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Drexel University and a graduate of the Michigan Sociology PhD program) uses a transnational lens to examine these practices, borrowing the framework of informality from its rich history in the global South to make sense of the varied, widespread (de jure) illegal uses of real property in Detroit. Drawing from her book manuscript, Herbert presents evidence for why the informality framework is best suited to understanding the way that property law violations shape the dynamics of social interaction and the form of the spatial landscape in this iconic American metropolis. These findings challenge previously held notions about who participates in urban informality, highlights the myriad ways that informality shapes the socio-spatial landscape of a declining city, and poses the contextual limits of deeply held ideals about private property rights.
Friday, February 22nd  4:15 pm 
Henderson Room (3rd Floor) // Michigan League, University of Michigan

Thursday, March 14 – New Methods Mini-Talks: The Use of Satellite Imagery to Assess the Patterns and Effects of Urban Decline – Though empty lots and abandoned homes make it easy to observe Detroit’s urban decline in person, frequent, consistent, high quality data that can empirically capture patterns of decline over time are relatively rare. Many surveys offer too little coverage to allow conclusions at the neighborhood level, while surveys with larger sample sizes – like the census – are too infrequent to capture the processes of change. This event will feature two mini-talks, by Arthur Endsley (PhD Candidate, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan) and Daniel Katz (Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Public Health, University of Michigan), that highlight the potential of rich, recurrent satellite data to measure the patterns and effects of Detroit’s decline. In his work, Endsley uses satellite images to examine how changes in neighborhood social conditions are reflected in changes in urban vegetation. Similarly, Katz’s work uses satellite data to consider how demolition and the proliferation of vacant lots in Detroit may lead to especially high pollen production in certain neighborhoods, potentially contributing to the city’s disproportionately high asthma and allergy rates.  
Thursday, March 14th 3:15 pm
Room 4 (1st Floor) // Michigan League, University of Michigan

Friday, March 29 – Progress and Preservation: the temporality of a demolition hearing in Detroit – James Macmillen – A month into an ethnographic study of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department from October 2014 to summer 2015, a senior city planner told Macmillen that the city didn’t have a strong planning legacy. So if a developer brings in a bucketload of cash and says, “I want to buy a building and knock it down,” planners might need to find a way to make it happen. Six months later, that exact situation presented itself when a developer requested permission to demolish an old hotel at the northern edge of Detroit’s downtown, spurring opposition from the city’s historic preservation community. In this talk, Macmillen traces how the debate between developers, planners, appointed officials and historic preservationists on the hotel’s fate evolved based on his embedded ethnographic fieldwork from within the Planning and Development Department. Using the framework of the anthropology of time, Macmillen recounts how participants employed temporal rhetoric in their claims and counterclaims, engaging with Detroit’s troubled past, offering alternative visions for the city’s future, and setting a collision course between developer’s call for urban progress and preservationists’ appeals to memory and heritage.

Friday, March 29th 4:15 pm

Room 2104 // Art and Architecture Building, Taubman College // University of Michigan, North Campus

 Friday, April 19 – Dream City: Creation, Destruction, and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit – Conrad KickertJoin the Detroit School Series for a book talk with Conrad Kickert – Assistant Professor of Urban Design, University of Cincinnati – to celebrate the upcoming release of Dream City: Creation, Destruction, and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit. In Dream City, Kickert explores how the history of downtown Detroit has differed from the familiar decline of the city’s neighborhoods: downtown grew faster, declined differently, and has been forced to reinvent itself time and again while battling the influential forces of the automobile and the suburbs. Introducing a varied cast of downtown power players and original morphological maps, the book traces downtown’s rise, fall, and rebirth. Throughout, Kickert examines the paradoxes of Detroit’s landscape of extremes, arguing that the current reinvention of downtown is the materialized expression of two centuries of Detroiters’ conflicting hopes and dreams.
Friday, April 19th 4:15 pm
East Conference Room (4th floor) // Rackham Building, University of Michigan