Friday, February 16
Armitage Hall, Faculty Lounge
11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Presented by James Wolfinger
Associate Dean & Professor Secondary History at DePaul College of Education
Philadelphia exploded in violence in 1910. The general strike that year claimed the lives of some two dozen people and made Philadelphia a prominent point in the tumultuous national conflict over workers’ rights. That strike was a notable point, but not a unique one, in the history of Philadelphia’s transit system. My paper, “Running the Rails: A History of Capital and Labor in the Philadelphia Transit Industry,” outlines the chief arguments that I make in my recent book, Running the Rails (Cornell University Press, 2016), which details a generations-long history of conflict between the workers and management at one of the nation’s largest privately owned transit systems. In particular, I focus on how labor relations shifted from the 1880s to the 1960s as transit workers adapted to fast-paced technological innovation to keep the city’s people and commerce on the move while management sought to limit its employees’ rights. I argue that it is remarkable to see how much Philadelphia’s transit workers achieved. (more…)
Thursday, January 25
Armitage Hall, Faculty Lounge
12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Presented by Zaire Z. Dinzey-Flores
Associate Professor of Sociology and Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University
“Location, location, location…” so goes the trope for how real estate properties derive their value. But how does race figure in the attribution of value for a property and a neighborhood? Based on ethnographic and mixed-method research in two demographically-transitioning neighborhoods in 21st Century Brooklyn, Dinzey-Flores considers how neighborhood spaces and property interiors are aesthetically, discursively, and materially produced and crafted by real estate actors in ways that render previously socially de-valued neighborhoods “valuable” and “worthy” of investment. Of particular focus, is the way in which racial conceptualizations—of “blackness,” “Latino-ness”, or “whiteness”—are codified and “built in” in the social desirability and economic valuation process of properties and neighborhoods. (more…)
In the 1960s and 1970s, white evangelicals looked warily at the American city. The fear, flight, and disinvestment of this period involved not only questions of race, class, and economy. Urban decline was also a religious phenomenon. In some urban neighborhoods, white evangelical congregations liquidated their properties and moved everything – churches, schools, homes – to the suburbs. Evangelical higher education followed this trend. Some white evangelical colleges moved from city centers to new suburban locations, while others that stayed in the city adopted a besieged mentality. In a moment of violence and political upheaval, many white evangelicals viewed the city as a threatening place.
The last decade has seen significant growth in the numbers of, and interest in, forms of ownership that have been variously called, “solidarity economies” or “alternative economies” or “non-capitalist economies.” While there is a lot written about these efforts, there is relatively little that has explored the lived meanings for those involved in such endeavors. The paper will ask how participation in forms of ownership that are different from the norm in American society impacts the political understandings and meanings that are attached to those forms of ownership. In short, does being part of such a form of ownership have political meaning to participants? If so, what are the meanings and how can they be properly understood by those looking to these forms of ownership to be part of a larger socially transformative movement? Drawing on scores of interviews with community land trust (CLT) residents, staff and board members, foundation and government funders, and others, this paper will discuss and analyze the reality that for most of the participants in such endeavors, the political meanings are muted, under-explored, and often fairly minor. It is this contradiction; between the significance of the change in the ownership form and the relatively insignificant political meanings attached to that changed ownership that this paper will probe. It will do so in order to better understand the political potential and limitations of “solidarity economy” forms of ownership, and to realistically assess what can be expected of these forms by those who aspire to have a more just political economy.