Graduate Colloquium: "Experiencing Diverse Cities: Community Based Arts, Social Interaction, and Progressive Politics"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 9:30am
Meyerson Hall G-12

Please join us for coffee, croissants and conversation during the Urban Studies Graduate Student Colloquium Series! The series provides a way for graduate students who are or have been a part of the Urban Studies Certificate program to come together to share their work. Most colloquia run from 9:30-11:00am unless otherwise noted.  

Author: Carolyn Chernoff, joint PhD candidate - Sociology and Education/Culture/Society

Discussant: Dr. Mark Stern, Professor and Kenneth L.M. Pray Chair of the School of Social Policy and Practice, Co-director Urban Studies Program

Abstract: Recent scholarship and public policy ask arts to drive economic growth for urban revitalization; this perspective takes positive social interaction as a given within the larger project of arts-based urban economic development.  However, the social life of community-based art and related democratic practices provide another lens to explore the role of arts and arts organizations within the contemporary city.  Within the fractured context of American cities (racial and ideological segregation), community-based arts provide a testing ground for social interaction across demographic difference (race, class, geography), a place where “culture builds community” (Stern & Siefert, 2002), albeit not unproblematically. This dissertation explores democratic practices around diversity within urban community-based arts organizations devoted to progressive social change.

The conceptual framework for this project combines overarching concepts of art as social intervention in urban problems, the potential for diverse social interactions within community-based arts organizations, and elaborating the assumed connection among cities, arts, and social change that theorists and practitioners rely on when considering the larger role of community-based arts organizations within the contemporary American city.  Ultimately, this project is nestled within a search for diverse urban experience: the experience of art (Dewey, 1932/2005), the experience of community, the experience of a diverse, unoppressive city (Young, 1990; Green, 1999).  This dissertation looks at social interaction around diversity in progressive arts spaces, and examines where those interactions, ideologies, and organizations fit within the larger project of an unnoppressive city.