January 2021


Maria Sulimma is reading the science fiction novel Black Sun (2020) by Rebecca Roanhorse. Science fiction and fantasy are genres that have much to offer for urban scholars and planners. Roanhourse's compelling novel is inspired by the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas, and, it is about three cities: the commercial capital Cuecola, the military city Huecha, and the religious city Tova. Even though I am aware of criticism of Roanhorse (also worth reading), I very much enjoy her urban worldbuilding, inclusion of native themes, and queer characters.

Chris Katzenberg is reading Manufacturing Decline (2019) by the urban geographer Jason Hackworth. The book proposes that the downfall of Rust Belt cities like Detroit since the 1970s was not just the effect of global economic shifts, but has in fact been a process of "managed decline" driven by the American conservative movement that strategically harnessed anti-Black "racial resentment." Hackworth demonstrates how this politics has made urban decline a process of uneven development in the Rust Belt, disproportionately affecting the ability of Black-majority neighborhoods, cities and Black city governments to achieve a positive postindustrial transformation. Hear him discuss his book here.

Juliane Borosch is reading the short feature "Folgeschäden des Bergbaus – O Ewigkeit du Donnerwort!" (translated from German: follow up costs of coal mining – eternity, you thunderous word!") about the environmental legacy of coal mining. Next to a concise integration of the end of German hard coal mining into the sustainability context, it presents an almost philosophical pondering on the durability of this process and thus the classification 'eternal'. It is a seasonal reminder of the consequences of human activity that in topic and detailed attention to wording speaks to my study of sustainability in the Ruhr area and beyond.


Our Past Reading
Prof. Dr. Josef Raab passed away on November 10, 2019 after a long battle against terminal illness. / © L. Raab

Thank you,

to our colleague, advisor, and mentor Josef Raab, who sadly passed away last weekend after a long and brave battle against terminal illness. Josef Raab was the chair of American Literary and Media Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He paved the way for the discipline of Inter-American Studies, significantly shaping its core debates. As a champion and supporter of the Ruhr Center for American Studies, he was also a pivotal figure for the establishment of our City Scripts research group. Josef Raab was a fighter of the good fight, never shy of supporting his students and of positively endorsing as well as tackling his colleagues. He never eschewed an argument he believed in. While he had to take a step back from in-person participation in recent months due to his illness, he was with us in thought and during our research. We lose a professor and mentor, who has accompanied and supported some of us since our bachelor’s degree, a colleague, who challenged us in academic discussions, and most of all a sincere and warm human soul.

All that is left for us to say now is, thank you and safe travels.