Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement announces fall “Rethinking the City” lecture series—Caitlin Cahill, October 21

October 14, 2013

The Bloustein School’s Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement has announced its fall 2013 lecture series, Rethinking the City, which seeks to promote how people and communities can shape the life and future of our cities in the face of today’s challenges and opportunities. The lunchtime lectures will begin at 12:45 p.m. and will be held in Room 113 of the Bloustein School’s Civic Square Building, 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, N.J.


The next event is the series will be on Monday, October 21. Caitlin Cahill, an Assistant Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn campus, will present “Transcultural Community Building: The Road Less Traveled.” Engaging the South African anti-apartheid wisdom that “nothing about us, without us, is for us,” this presentation focuses on transcultural community building as a theory of change that calls for new ways of thinking about how we work with, rather then for or on, communities. Arguing for a collaborative approach to knowledge production that explicitly engages with relationships of race, white privilege, and power, Dr. Cahill’s work draws upon participatory action research projects conducted with young people that offer insights for planners, researchers and organizers who take the collective right to the city as an inclusive and dynamic process of community building seriously. She will discuss the Mestizo Arts & Activism Collective, an intergenerational social justice think tank in Salt Lake City, Utah, and their work on immigration & educational rights and the tensions between the research and organizing strategies, answering the questions: How to foreground the epistemic privilege of undocumented students while negotiating the thorny politics of multiracial coalition building in a white majority state? How might we “cultivate a sense of “we” (Warren, 2010) and at the same time address critical issues of white privilege and structural racism ? These questions are also relevant closer to home in another participatory project based Bushwick, Brooklyn, where the Researchers for Fair Policing—a collaboration of the Public Science Project & Make the Road NY— are documenting the stories of young people’s experiences of stop & frisk encounters with the police. Engaging the contradictions and contours of transcultural community building, Dr. Cahill’s discussion will consider the centrality of race in both  urban imaginaries and everyday lives, looking across these two projects to illuminate the ways that global restructuring takes shape on the ground at this political moment and how we might negotiate it as planners committed to the just city.

Caitlin Cahill is an Assistant Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn campus. She does participatory action research with communities, investigating the everyday intimate experiences of global urban restructuring, specifically as it concerns gentrification, immigration, and education. Dr. Cahill is interested in creating collective spaces for dialogue, creativity, knowledge production, critical research and action. Before Pratt, she was an assistant professor of urban studies and environmental psychology at the City University of New York, and was an assistant professor in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. In Salt Lake City, she co-directed the Mestizo Arts & Activism Collective, an intergenerational social justice think tank that engages young people as catalysts of change in a model integrating community-based collective research, arts and activism.

Additional RWV lunchtime lectures this fall include:

Monday, November 11: The Body and Food Insecurity: Visceral Methods with Internally Displaced Women in Columbia
by Elizabeth L. Sweet and Allison Hayes-Conroy, Temple University

Monday, December 9: Inclusionary Zoning and Exclusionary Development: The Politics of Affordable Housing in Greenpoint-Williamsburg
by Filip Stabrowski, Hunter College


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