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(Dis)Placed Urban Histories

Semester and Year SP 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1826
Section 001
Instructor Rebecca Amato
Days F
Time 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



According to the vacation rental site, Airbnb, Brooklyn’s “ultra-trendy” Williamsburg neighborhood is “New York City’s top spot for looking awesome” and can be credited with being one of the borough’s “first neighborhoods to create collector’s items out of defunct warehouses.” Until recently, such descriptions were assumed to be about the northern section of Williamsburg, where boutiques and chic restaurants, galleries, lofts, and artisanal markets abound. Now, as the  New York Post  notes, the formerly “scruffy” and “barren” South Williamsburg is also “growing up” as LEED-certified luxury construction and trendy restaurants materialize there as well. This language of encroaching gentrification, though relatively new to both North and South Williamsburg, has a longer history, having been applied to Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, East Village, and Soho neighborhoods decades before. Yet while twenty-somethings pour into South Williamsburg, many question their role in displacing long-term residents, small businesses, and local traditions with a homogenizing “hipster” culture. This course invites students to become historical activists whose objective is to learn who and what is being displaced by gentrification and what the historical processes are that have aided this change. Students will conduct archival and secondary research; produce collaborative oral histories with neighborhood residents and business owners; and meet with activists who are working to stem the tide of gentrification. The course will culminate in an on-line archive and a physical exhibit to be co-produced with neighborhood residents and displayed at El Museo de Los Sures in South Williamsburg.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)