This week in North Philly Notes, we present a slideshow of Temple University Press books and pets!
This week in North Philly Notes, Carolyn Gallaher, author of The Politics of Staying Put explains how the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is operating in Washington, DC.
Cities are fashionable again. After decades of disinvestment, people are coming back. Washington DC is a case in point. Between 1950 and 2000 the city’s population shrunk by 29%; however, in the next decade it grew 10%, from 572,059 to 632,323. Although population growth slowed after 2012, the city still added another 23,000 residents in the next two years. Most economists think the city would have grown even more if not for the rising costs associated with living in the city.
Given these trends, it’s fair to ask why big cities like Washington, DC still have slumlords. In the era of urban decline (roughly between 1960 and 2000) slumlords typically let their properties deteriorate because they couldn’t make a return on investments in them. Today, returns on investments in rental accommodations are very likely, if not guaranteed. Enter the modern slumlord. No longer an individual or a family, the modern slumlord is often a real estate investment group, and for them disinvestment is a strategy for ensuring a larger return. Instead of repairing and refurbishing an old building and earning modest returns, you tear it down, replace it with luxury apartments, and charge rents to match. The only things standing in your way are tenants. So, you stop making repairs and hope they’ll move out.
The residents in Congress Heights, a complex in the Anacostia neighborhood, know all about this strategy. They’ve lived it for several years. Their landlord, Sanford Capital, doesn’t make repairs anymore. The company’s tenants live with sporadic heat, faulty plumbing, a bedbug infestation, rodents, and a basement with raw sewage and standing water when it rains. People often pack up and leave when things get this bad, but a number of the tenants in Congress Heights are holding on. Some of the complex’s longtime residents are elderly and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Others don’t want to leave their friends and neighbors because they all look out for one another. And, everyone is poor and worried about finding someplace else as affordable as where they live now. They are right to worry. The Congress Heights neighborhood is near a metro (subway) station and is, in developer speak, “ripe for redevelopment.” A recent study by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) also suggests there aren’t many affordable apartments left in the city. Since 2002 the city lost nearly half of its affordable apartment units (defined in the study as units renting for $800 or less).
The District of Columbia has a law, the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), which should have prevented things from getting so bad at Congress Heights. The city council introduced TOPA in 1981 in response to a spate of condo conversions in fast-gentrifying neighborhoods near downtown. The goal of the law was to help tenants stay in place when their landlords decided to sell or convert to condominium. TOPA states that when a landlord sells a rental apartment building, tenants are allowed to refuse the sale and purchase the building instead for the same price. Tenants are also allowed to purchase their building if a landlord wants to demolish it for redevelopment. Tenants usually work with a developer (for-profit or non-profit) to purchase their building. They can then choose whether to convert their building to condo or co-op or keep it rental.
By law landlords are supposed to inform their tenants when they contract a sale or submit formal plans for demolition with the city. In practice, however, landlords often subvert these guidelines, and at various points in recent history the city agency responsible for regulating the TOPA process has abetted them.
The landlord at Congress Heights, Sanford Capital, applied for and received permission to demolish the buildings in early 2015 and the tenants have still not received a formal TOPA notice. In the meantime, the city’s Attorney General, Karl Racine, recently sued the landlords and will ask the court to put the building into temporary receivership so a different owner can make repairs. The city is also considering forcing Sanford Capital to issue its tenants a TOPA notice. In short, the law that didn’t work to protect the people it was supposed to protect may still be their last hope for staying put.
In my new book The Politics of Staying Put: Condo Conversion and Tenant Right-to-Buy in Washington DC, I assess TOPA’s success at helping tenants stay put. As the Congress Heights case suggest, the law is imperfect. Legislators need to specify fuzzy language, close some obvious loopholes, and demand city regulators actually provide oversight of the process. But, I also found that many tenants have made TOPA work for them. Most importantly, successful tenants associations have used TOPA to stay put—no mean feat in a fast gentrifying city. Successful tenants associations have also participated in the benefits of reinvestment, whether as new owners building equity or as renters who can demand building wide improvements and continued low rents from their development partners.
The bigger battle, though, isn’t fixing TOPA. The law was never designed to be a stand-alone solution. TOPA cannot, for example, ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing, police slumlords, or reign in the city’s pay-to-play approach with developers. In fact, the city’s Zoning Commission approved Sanford’s plans for redeveloping the land where the Congress Heights apartment complex sits even after the city’s Department of Human Services and its Department of Housing and Community Development received hundreds of complaints about significant code violations in Sanford owned properties. In these neoliberal times, cities don’t want to assume responsibilities for their low income residents (or increasingly, their middle income ones), but they will have to if they want to ensure their cities don’t become exclusive enclaves for the wealthy. Otherwise, cities risk becoming a version of the 1980s era suburbs they long bemoaned.
Filed under: american studies, civil rights, economics/business, Education, ethics, health, Labor Studies, law & criminology, political science, race and ethnicity, sociology, Uncategorized, Urban Studies | Tagged: Book, housing, political science, race and ethnicity, sociology, urban studies, washington dc | Leave a comment »
This week in North Philly Notes, we reprint Jeffrey A. Halley and Patrick Hebert’s comments honoring the late Randy Martin, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marxist section of the American Sociological Association.
On behalf of the Marxist section, and its Lifetime Achievement Award Committee (with Art Jipson and Rich Hogan) it is with great pleasure that we present this year’s Award to Randy Martin. Many of you knew Randy and are familiar with his work and contributions. Randy unfortunately passed away this winter, after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 57, Professor and Chair of Art, Society and Public Policy, Director, Graduate Program in Arts Politics, at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University and in his time he accomplished many things.
I met Randy in New York when he was at CUNY Graduate Center finishing his Ph. D. thesis. Later in the 1980s we both worked together on the journal Social Text. His B.A. was from UC –Berkeley, where he studied Michael Burawoy, who had recently joined the faculty. For his M.S. Randy then studied at Wisconsin with Eric Olin Wright, and was active in the graduate students’ strike. A Marxist scholar and also a dancer, he came to New York to dance and to study with Mike Brown and George Fisher at CUNY.
His research can be divided a bit arbitrarily into a number of overlapping categories:
Works on Marxism include:
Books critiquing the neo-liberal university include:
Randy might be best known for his pioneering work on neo-liberalism and financialization, in Financialization of Daily Life and in An Empire of Indifference: American War and the Financial Logic of Risk Management. And he had just completed Knowledge, LTD: Toward a Social Logic of the Derivative, published posthumously in spring 2015.
Finally, he worked at the confluence of politics and culture, more specifically, dance and culture, in his Performance as Political Act: The Embodied Self; Socialist Ensembles: Theater and State in Cuba and Nicaragua; Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics; and the edited Routledge Companion to Art and Politics.
Randy was also an institution builder, as editor of journals, serving on the board of directors of the New York Marxist School, as Chair and acting Dean at Pratt Institute, and finally at New York University, where he was Chair, Professor of Art, Society, and Public Policy, and Founding Director of the Graduate Program in Arts Politics, Tisch School of the Arts.
Randy combined Marxist scholarship, organizational commitment, and a magnetic presence as teacher.
We are honored to confer this award on him. To receive it, I want to introduce his colleague Pato Hebert from New York University.
It’s an honor to accept this award on behalf of Randy’s brilliant wife Ginger and his wonderful children Oliver and Sophia, and to represent my colleagues and our alumni in the Art & Public Policy Department at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. Randy ingeniously envisioned, built and chaired our department, and so it is also he whom I have the privilege and challenge of representing tonight.
Although I am honored to be here, I am also deeply saddened to be with you. I so wish it were Randy’s probing, punning, imploring, prancing presence that was before you now. Back home at the department we will soon be embarking on our first new school year without our gentle but fierce leader. This beginning anew in the space of loss will not be easy. Randy was as gifted as he was gracious, and he always made time for everyone even as he shepherded countless book projects, panels, formations and initiatives.
I miss him. He took a chance on me three years ago and made room and resources for my strange, amoebic practice, guiding, pushing and supporting me along with hundreds upon hundreds of others — colleagues, students, strangers, you, our world, the under-commons. Randy was incomparable. At his services last spring were shared many heavy hearts, but mostly endless currents of gratitude, admiration, awe and delight. People still speak continuously of Randy’s kindness, warmth, generosity, his catalytic creativity, principled yet supple politics, and his devastating intellectual acumen. I miss this marvelous mind and spirit, his energy and example. Every day.
But although I am still so full of sorrow, I am also thrilled to be here with you, his comrades, a most special crew among his many magical worlds. I am buoyed by the work that you and Randy have done, or will do, helping us to better understand how we are so interconnected with one another, the messy and sacred intricacies of the social, which here is to also say the political, and the still to be determined. Randy deserved to stand before you tonight, receiving this award and the recognition he has so rightfully earned but would no doubt so modestly deflect. He cannot be with us in the flesh now, but his spirit and wisdom are everywhere. No more committee meetings, deadlines, bureaucracies or brain cancer, just a legacy as lithe as it is large.
I, myself, am just beginning to dip more fully into the work and pathways Randy Martin has left for us. Randy’s dexterity and agility were astonishing. He was able to write incisively about academic administration, progressive dance and financial derivatives with equal grace and grit. He used to tell our students that they were working to create a GPS for a world that does not yet exist, but that they would bring into being through their work and efforts. Conjuring the pulsing plurality of our needed response, he reminded us all that we share not a practice, but a predicament. The predicament of this moment, as well as our communal possibility.
Given this special collective assembled here tonight, I thought I would close with some of Randy’s own words from his article, “Marxism after Cultural Studies,” published in 2008 as the financial crisis crested. Given the market’s bungee jumping the last few weeks, I can’t help but wonder what Randy would’ve analyzed and intuited. But here is what he wrote so presciently some seven years ago:
Financialization is more about technique than idea, more effect than intention, less a consensus than a dispersion of consequences. As such, it is less coherent than a ruling idea and pricklier than a regime whose time can pass. It does not replace these other terms for naming what we are up against, but nestles among them. It surely cannot account for all that transpires in the present, but does insist upon reconciling the vast complexity in our midst through some means of accountability.
Finance culturalizes risk by rendering it a calculable gain from an expected outcome. Risk spreads the culture of accountability and as such forms a way of knowing or epistemological conjuncture that both cuts across disciplines and renders those claims to methodological monogamy mute.
Risk suggests more than an attack on traditional partitions of specialized knowledge and expertise. It also invites another figuration of being.
By examining financial reason ‘manifest as risk management’ across an array of sites from war, to domesticity, to education, a richer trajectory for Marxism and cultural studies can itself be more readily imagined. For Marxism to now emerge as the unrepresentable within cultural studies does not demand a return to the classical formulations with their prior stabilities and separations. Rather, this Marxism makes room for the cultural as it manifests and multiplies in those spaces and affects that capital lives off of but remains indifferent to. This Marxism is also a cultural studies, but one that asks what life we lead together when all that concerns us can be placed at risk. It allows us to pose the question of value, including that of our own theoretical labors, when these would be denied both a history and a futurity. From the little difference that we make can be derived a field of studies to survive and even thrive these pre-criminal crises.
Filed under: american studies, cultural studies, economics/business, Education, ethics, Labor Studies, Mass Media and Communications, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized | Tagged: american studies, Book, dance, economics, economy, Education, history, law, marxism, race and ethnicity, sociology | Leave a comment »
November 8-14 is University Press Week. Since 2012, we have celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.
Today’s theme is: #TBT
Project MUSE In honor of our 20th anniversary this year, we’ll pull some highlights from our 20 years of university press content.
University of Minnesota Press Information and infographic material highlighting the University of Minnesota Press’s 90th birthday this year.
University of Chicago Press A TBT to awards/digital techonology/ the future, written as a letter from the past, the year the PDF was founded in 1991.
University of Manitoba Press We’ll be pulling books & catalogues & book launch photos from the 48 years UMP has been publishing.
University of Washington Press In celebration of kicking off UW Press’s centennial, we will feature highlights and photos from 100 years of UW Press history.
Duke University Press A throwback to all of our surprising journal covers.
University of Texas Press A look back on the street style of 1970s Pennsylvania through the lens of seminal street photographer Mark Cohen.
University of Michigan Press Describing the evolution of our book “Michigan Trees” through the more than 100 years the publication has been maintained/edited, with a screen shot of the original cover
University Press of Kansas UPK will use this #TBT post, along with a “Today in history” theme, to tie-in relevant books from UPK.
Minnesota Historical Society Press Mike Evangelist’s “Downtown: Minneapolis in the 1970s” captures a memorable time and place in the past, and his photos generated great interest on social media by those reflecting on the many long-lost places and styles featured. The book itself offers a Throwback look at this era.
University of California Press Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 publication in 2010: A media cause célèbre.
University of Toronto Press UTP Journals will use our throwback Thursday post to either highlight the various cover designs our journals have had over the years (some journals have been publishing for hundreds of years!)
Fordham University Press offers What Might Have Been. . . A Trip Through NYC’s Unbuilt Subway System.
Help us Celebrate!
This week in North Philly Notes, Ann-Marie Anderson, Marketing Director at Temple University Press, recounts her experiences at the recent Association of American University Presses annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.
I had the pleasure of attending my first AAUP annual meeting in many, many years–in Denver no less, the Mile-High City. The theme this year was “Connect, Collaborate,” and sessions ranged from discussions of successful product development to the continuing challenges of establishing realistic book schedules and the constant interplay that takes place between acquisitions and marketing in publishing decisions.
But what I always find most rewarding about attending the annual meetings is crossing paths with people I’ve not seen in years and meeting new people. And this year was certainly no different. Right at the start, at the opening celebration and banquet, I encountered old friend Liz Scarpelli, former Rutgers University Press marketing manager now publishers’ rep for Baker & Taylor. And I was introduced to Ellen Chodosh, New York University Press‘s new director, who was chatting with Mary Beth Jarrad, the press’ sales and marketing director, whom I see only at the Barnes & Noble holiday party if at all. Not long after, I ran into Tony Sanfilippo, director of Ohio State University Press, and Albert Harum-Alvarez, designer and owner of SmallCo, the FileMaker database design consultancy firm with many clients in the university press world, and his wife Enid. I shared a dinner table with Jack Farrell, executive publishing headhunter, of Farrell & Associates, and East-West Export Books sales manager Royden Muranaka and other members of the University of Hawaii Press.
At the Chronicle of Higher Education party in the Daniels & Fisher Tower (a building with an elevator capacity of eight, where a hundred-plus eager university press folks in the lobby awaiting the ride up), I climbed a flight of stairs (or two) to what I believe was the seventeenth floor with Dean Smith, author of the Temple University Press title
Never Easy, Never Pretty. He is now the director of Cornell University Press. On the balcony overlooking downtown Denver, I saw Kate Fraser, an old acquaintance from Eurospan, a UK-based sales agency. Sometime before, during, or after that, I met–in the flesh–Dennis Lloyd, newly appointed director of the University of Wisconsin Press, with whom I’ve previously had only email conversations; Norris Langley, CFO at Duke University Press; and Kate Davey and her staff, Dan and Ben, of Bibliovault, the scholarly book repository. I had to hug Kate; she is just incredible to work with. And the list goes on and on.
Finally, it is always a pleasure to connect with the staff at AAUP, who work tirelessly to support the membership and put together the various activities associated with the annual meetings year after year. Here’s a shout-out to Kim Miller, office manager and program administrator. It was great to see ya!
This week in North Philly Notes, we celebrate fathers everywhere with a trio of books that highlight fatherhood.
Not from Here by Allan G. Johnson
When Allan Johnson asked his dying father where he wanted his ashes to be placed, his father replied—without hesitation—that it made no difference to him at all. In his poignant, powerful memoir, Not from Here, Johnson embarks on an extraordinary two-thousand-mile journey across the Upper Midwest and Great Plains to find the place where his father’s ashes belong.
As a white man of Norwegian and English lineage, Johnson explores both America and the question of belonging to a place whose history holds the continuing legacy of the displacement, dispossession, and genocide of Native Peoples.
More than a personal narrative, Not from Here illuminates not only the national silence around unresolved questions of accountability, race, and identity politics but also the dilemma of how to take responsibility for a past we did not create. Johnson’s story—of the past living in the present; of redemption, fate, family, tribe, and nation; of love and grief—raises profound questions about belonging, identity, and place.
Men Can by Donald N.S. Unger
In Men Can, writer, teacher, and father Donald Unger uses his personal experiences as a stay-at-home dad; stories of real-life families; and representations of fathers in film, on television, and in advertising to illuminate the roles men now play in the increasingly fluid domestic sphere.
Unger tells the stories of a half dozen families—of varied ethnicities, geographical locations, and philosophical orientations—in which fathers are either primary caregivers or equally sharing parents. He personalizes how Americans are now caring for their children and discusses the ways that popular culture reflects these changes in family roles. Unger also addresses the evolving language of parenting and media representations of fathers over several decades.
Men Can shows how real change can take place when families divide up domestic labor on a gender-neutral basis. The families profiled here offer insights into the struggles of—and opportunities for—men caring for children. Unger favors flexible arrangements and a society that respects personal choices and individual differences, crediting and supporting functional families, rather than one in which every household must conform to a one-size-fits-all mold.
The Package Deal by Nicholas W. Townsend
In The Package Deal, Nicholas Townsend explores what men say about being fathers, and about what fatherhood means to them. He shows how men negotiate the prevailing cultural values about fatherhood, marriage, employment, and home ownership that he conceptualizes as a “package deal.” Townsend identifies the conflicts and contradictions within the gendered expectations of men and fathers, and analyzes the social and economic contexts that make emotionally involved fathering an elusive ideal.
Drawing on the lives and life stories of a group of men in their late forties who graduated from high school together in the early 1970s, The Package Deal demystifies culture’s image of fatherhood in the United States. These men are depicted as neither villains nor victims, but as making their best efforts to achieve successful adult masculinity. This book shows what fathers really think about fatherhood, the division of labor between fathers and mothers, the gendered difference in expectations, and the privileging of the relationship between fathers and sons.
These revealing accounts of how fatherhood fits into the rest of men’s lives help us better understand what men can and cannot do as fathers. And they clearly illustrate that women are not alone in trying to “have it all” as they strive to combine work and family.