Thinking from Oakland: Urban Study in the Town

Trisha Barua
Cultural Studies
UC Davis

Erin McElroy
Feminist Studies
UC Santa Cruz

Alex Werth
UC Berkeley

This Graduate Working Group supports the production of Thinking from Oakland: Urban Study in the Town–an anthology, multimedia website, and event series designed to foreground representations of Oakland, CA rooted in the city’s unique histories and geographies of urban spatial politics. This project is an exploration “Urban Study”–the multiple and everyday modes through which people and groups decipher and describe the city, placing themselves within its contested pasts, presents, and futures. In contrast to “expert” knowledges produced by planners and social scientists, i.e. “urban studies,” Urban Study centers artists and activists who have long led the aesthetic and political work of analyzing and (re)envisioning Oakland. By thinking Oakland from Oakland, this project invites a wide range of readers to engage otherwise complex and rarified ideas that expand (or upend) conventional understandings of gentrification, racial capitalism, creative economies, and urban cultural production. By working with a range of graduate students and non-academic contributors, the project aims to create and curate work that resonates with local artists, activists, and scholars from across the disciplines. This collaborative endeavor might provide a useful model for interdisciplinary and place-based public scholarship.