Panel Questions and Descriptions

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Here is our framing of the panels, though we expect the conversations to take these framings merely as starting points:

Although our panels revolve around policy themes, we wish to encourage generative, interdisciplinary conversations across communities, universities, national borders. At a moment when ecosystems are marked by “convenience” and a scarcity of resources, neoliberal logics can come to pervade and domesticate radical struggles as well as our original targets. As such, we hope that all panels consider these cross-cutting questions:

  • Who are the local and perhaps national actors involved? What is happening globally, and how are the local, national, and global linked right now?
  • Where are the “knotty” intersections generative, and where do subaltern conflicts brew? In substantively tackling the policy issues for this panel, what other main oppressions and social and political issues must we simultaneously address, in order to make a real difference? Who is most impacted? How do we rethink our constituencies and strategies in response?
  • How do our relative positions (along axes of professional role, institutional home or lack thereof, race, gender, sexuality, indigeneity, age, abilities, bodily experience, languages, immigrant status, and other axes of power) shape our current work, reception to our work, and our thinking and ability to engage in resistance?
  • What data and research do we need to interrogate what’s happening now? Who’s collecting this data, who owns it, and how is it being used? What can we do?
  • How can we contest dominant framings, stereotypes, and lines of discourse, to help get counternarratives heard and countercartographies seen? What might meaningful counterveillance look like?
  • What might radical alternatives to the present look like?

We hope to highlight the ways in which these policy battles and debates are inextricably intertwined– even as they operate at multiple geographical and analytical levels. We encourage all of the panels to collectively strategize on how to spark, nurture, forward, and raise up alternatives that activate solidarities across literal and figurative borders, without curdling to assimilation.


Liberatory Schooling, Restorative and Transformative Justice: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Over the past two decades, many education organizing groups previously focused on pervasive racial and economic segregation in our public schools have broadened the scope of their campaigns, to include not just severe underfunding and overcrowding but privatization (via charter schools, vouchers, and contractors), high-stakes testing (and the punitive policies that accompany them), school closures, and the overpolicing of our children. Instead of schools, public resources continue to feed a Prison Industrial Complex, with mass incarceration disproportionately affecting our lowest-income communities. The discursive trope of the “troubled,” “deficient,” “insubordinate” child mired in a culture of poverty is decades-old and has been debunked many times over, but retains currency in public policy. The media attention on recent cases of children affected by police violence—Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, the unnamed Spring Valley High School girl in North Carolina—has refocused public attention on the school-to-prison pipeline. In this panel, we focus on what a national agenda on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline would look like. What are the specific social and structural barriers we must tackle to give students, especially, a supportive, academically challenging education with dignity? What does this look like for students racialized and gendered in different ways? What are our current strategies, and what must be done?


Making place-making public: Urban transformation, marginality, and community

This session draws across diverse contexts to understand the role of marginalized communities and people in urban political-economic change. Rather than situated outside urban transformation, we focus on how communities of the poor, the working class, ethnic and racial minorities, and those otherwise dispossessed are central to processes of change but so often marginalized from meaningful participation within them. Global economic boom and bust cycles, intensification of financial expectations, ever-increasing connections between real estate and financial markets, and mobile models of urban governance—processes that are institutionalized at the local scale and mobilized globally—heighten displacement pressure on marginalized communities and limit their ability to exercise control over place-making. At the same time, dislocation can serve as a basis for political opportunities to make claims to the security of place. The session will draw on insights from community organizing, community- and counter-mapping projects, and land conflicts at the urbanizing frontier. Our discussion will focus on how marginalized communities are positioned within urban change, what their effects are for the security of place and home, and how alternative and/or confrontational practices can work to build autonomy and political capacity.



Reclaiming the commons: Alternative strategies for racial economic justice

It has been more than three years since Occupy Wall Street focused American public attention on the links between debt, economic inequalities, and democratic governance. At least one (newly) Democratic candidate has consistently advocated for democratic socialism in his Presidential campaign. Campaigns for a living wage continue to gain momentum. Yet, from public transportation inequities to Flint’s water crisis, inequalities in the well-being of our communities continue to fall along racial and class lines. In this panel, we will examine and discuss current campaigns and models of economic justice being pursued right now, reflect on key challenges and successes, and examine emerging critical solidarities and alternative strategies for reclaiming the commons.


With ears to the ground, in tribute to Marilyn Jacobs Gittell: What’s next for justice in the city?

URBAN was founded in part to “build on the work of Marilyn Jacobs Gittell, a passionate and engaged teacher and scholar whose long career of pioneering community-based urban research to inform social change is the inspiration for this effort.” This panel celebrates her legacy, paying tribute to her work on educational governance, community development, and women and welfare policy. The panel highlights the ways in which her work established new standards in community-based research: a focus on community participation in governance and democracy, and close mentorship to make a substantive difference for junior scholars, especially scholars of color. The need for such research and training has only intensified since Marilyn’s passing; we are at a decisive juncture in American education, and in American democracy. Even as we have ostensibly recovered from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we have not seen the usually accompanying increases in wages, well-being, and educational attainment. The precarity labor market now feels like the new normal, but new modes of resistance have also emerged in response. This panel features students of Gittell and other thinkers connecting political analyses of power to on-the-ground efforts for social change, discussing what’s next for justice in the city.


Within and beyond the nation: Reimagining immigration politics

We will draw upon the experiences, wins, and struggles of current immigrant-led social movements, to examine the strategies and modes of resistance that immigrant groups (and allies) assert we most need next. Donald Trump leads in the Republican primary polls while labeling “the United States as a dumping ground for Mexico,” and Jeb Bush replies that in his “anchor babies” statement, he was talking about “Asian babies” instead. Despite reassurances from the DeBlasio administration, there is new evidence of on-going, warrant-less spying on lawful Muslim student groups at CUNY. Amidst all this, local grassroots groups sometimes find ways to reframe local debates and secure progressive wins in education, reproductive rights, and other essential, and essentially contested policy arenas. What can we learn from these struggles? What might we learn by thinking through literal and figurative “border crossings” together, and talking across policy fields such as labor, education, and the consequences of “the War on Terror”? Can relinking our local struggles to national, cross-national, and global ones help us to articulate cross-cutting themes and strategies of resistance, recuperation, and reasserting dignity?