What We're Reading

December 2020

Elisabeth Haefs is reading Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (2017) by Zeynep Tufekci. This book offers the interesting perspective of a computer programmer who is also a sociologist. Tufekci’s analysis of modern protest is an enlightening read which assesses the influence of social media on social movements. It serves as a valuable background to better understand the dynamics of, for instance, the ongoing protests that are taking place in Portland, Oregon.

Florian Deckers is currently reading Abstract Barrios: The Crisis of Latinx Visibility in Cities (2020) by Johana Londoño. Her insightful exploration of the aesthetics of the barrio and the way in which they are brokered to mainstream America from coast to coast, inspires me in my work on East Harlem's Latinx murals and their evolving functions. Londoño illuminates how, for example, brightly colored buildings not only created a sense of belonging in the Latinx community, but also fulfilled an important function in the recuperation of the inner city.

Katharina Wood is reading the article “Expand the Frontiers of Urban Sustainability” by David Wachsmuth, Daniel A. Cohen and Hillary Angelo published in Nature. The article explores how in urban sustainability plans there is often a lack of effort to include social equity into the equation. Urban sustainability should amount to more than solely environmental measures and promote social concerns as well through a more holistic systems approach to sustainability that focuses on urban regions and global networks.

Johannes Maria Krickl is reading Stadt der Städte: Das Ruhrgebiet und seine Umbrüche, edited by M. Farrenkopf et al. (2019) and Zeit-Räume Ruhr: Erinnerungsorte des Ruhrgebiets, edited by S. Berger et al. (2019) to investigate topoi of the Ruhrgebiet, which find ambivalent application in both narrative practices of mnemonic glorification and unseaming renunciation for the imagination of a post-industrial future. 

November 2020

Juliane Borosch is reading the article “In Detroit, a Hallowed Ground for Auto Workers Finally Gets Its Due” by Namrata Kolachalam on CityLab. The article sheds light on a forgotten labor protest by Ford workers of the River Rouge factory that is being memorialized in a new city park. The article relates past struggles to current topics of sustainability and social justice. It is not only relevant for the topics we study, but offers some historical depth to workers’ and civil rights efforts during this pandemic and protest movements.



Chris Katzenberg


is reading the fascinating work of the Detroit poet Jamaal May for an upcoming article. May’s recent collections Hum (2013) and The Big Book of Exit Strategies (2016) inspire my thinking about the possibilities of identity construction in present-day, postindustrial Detroit. You can learn more about Jamaal May and sample some of his wonderful poetry at the Poetry Foundation, and I recommend the poem “Shift” (2015).

Maria Sulimma is reading Coffeeland: A History (2020) by Augustine Sedgewick. For my project on literary representations of coffee drinking and cafés, I have already read several international histories of coffee (coffee drinking, coffee growing, coffee trade). This may be my favorite one. Historian Sedgewick expands from the coffee production in El-Salvador, includes a decolonial perspective, and is interested in discourses surrounding energy and coffee as a ‘work drug’ that are very compatible with my research on coffee drinking and industrialism in the 19th century.