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The Battle Nearer to Home
The Persistence of School Segregation in New York City
Despite its image as an epicenter of progressive social policy, New York City continues to have one of the nation's most segregated school systems. Tracing the quest for integration in education from the mid-1950s to the present, The Battle Nearer to Home follows the tireless efforts by educational activists to dismantle the deep racial and socioeconomic inequalities that segregation reinforces. The fight for integration has shifted significantly over time, not least in terms of the way "integration" is conceived, from transfers of students and redrawing school attendance zones, to more recent demands of community control of segregated schools. In all cases, the Board eventually pulled the plug in the face of resistance from more powerful stakeholders, and, starting in the 1970s, integration receded as a possible solution to educational inequality. In excavating the history of New York City school integration politics, in the halls of power and on the ground, Christopher Bonastia unearths the enduring white resistance to integration and the severe costs paid by Black and Latino students. This last decade has seen activists renew the fight for integration, but the war is still far from won.
Published July 2022
Stanford University Press
The Roads to Hillbrow: Making Life in South Africa's Community of Migrants
This highly accessible portrayal of a post-apartheid neighborhood in transition analyzes the relationship between identity, migration, and place.
Since it was founded in 1894, amidst Johannesburg’s transformation from a mining town into the largest city in southern Africa, Hillbrow has been a community of migrants. As the “city of gold” accumulated wealth on the backs of migrant laborers from southern Africa, Jewish Eastern Europeans who had fled pogroms joined other Europeans and white South Africans in this emerging suburb. After World War II, Hillbrow became a landscape of high-rises that lured western and southern Europeans seeking prosperity in South Africa’s booming economy. By the 1980s, Hillbrow housed some of the most vibrant and visible queer spaces on the continent while also attracting thousands of Indian and Black South Africans who defied apartheid laws to live near the city center. Filling the void for a book about migration within the Global South, The Roads to Hillbrow explores how one South African neighborhood transformed from a white suburb under apartheid into a “grey zone” during the 1970s and 1980s to become a “port of entry” for people from at least twenty-five African countries.
The Roads to Hillbrow explores the diverse experiences of domestic and transnational migrants who have made their way to this South African community following war, economic dislocation, and the social trauma of apartheid. Authors Ron Nerio and Jean Halley weave sociology, history, memoir, and queer studies with stories drawn from more than 100 interviews. Topics cover the search for employment, options for housing, support for unaccompanied minors, possibilities for queer expression, the creation of safe parks for children, and the challenges of living without documents. Current residents of Hillbrow also discuss how they cope with inequality, xenophobia, high levels of crime, and the harsh economic impacts of COVID-19.
Many of the book’s interviewees arrived in Hillbrow seeking not only to gain better futures for themselves but also to support family members in rural parts of South Africa or in their countries of origin. Some immerse themselves in justice work, while others develop LGBTQ+ support networks, join religious and community groups, or engage in artistic expression. By emphasizing the disparate voices of migrants and people who work with migrants, this book shows how the people of Hillbrow form connections and adapt to adversity.
Published June 2022
Fordham University Press
Abolition Geography Essays Towards Liberation
New collection of writings from one of the foremost contemporary critical thinkers on racism, geography and incarceration
Gathering together Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s work from over three decades, Abolition Geographypresents her singular contribution to the politics of abolition as theorist, researcher, and organizer, offering scholars and activists ways of seeing and doing to help navigate our turbulent present.
Abolition Geography moves us away from explanations of mass incarceration and racist violence focused on uninterrupted histories of prejudice or the dull compulsion of neoliberal economics. Instead, Gilmore offers a geographical grasp of how contemporary racial capitalism operates through an “anti-state state” that answers crises with the organized abandonment of people and environments deemed surplus to requirement. Gilmore escapes one-dimensional conceptions of what liberation demands, who demands liberation, or what indeed is to be abolished. Drawing on the lessons of grassroots organizing and internationalist imaginaries, Abolition Geography undoes the identification of abolition with mere decarceration, and reminds us that freedom is not a mere principle but a place.
Edited with an introduction by Brenna Bhandar and Alberto Toscano.
Published May 2022
The Thought Project
The Thought Project shares the knowledge, research, and innovation of Graduate Center scholars with the world. Through a podcast and a Medium blog, The Thought Project allows Graduate Center faculty and students to discuss how their scholarship goes beyond academia and affects the public good.Podcast Episodes
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