From September 12 to 14 a conference on urban activism in Harvard will debate on the links between urban struggles and research activities.
Boston has today the highest income divide of the US: evictions invariably hit latinos or afroamerican neighborhoods. City Life / Vida Urbana since the 1970s keeps building a network of mutual aid among those who suffer the consequences of these housing policies, also through the use of theater, rituals, symbols.
Mindy Fullilove calls "root shock" the trauma suffered by 1600 Afro-American communities displaced from the city centres of the US since 1949. In her book "Root Shock" (2004) she uses the metaphor of transplantation, a trauma after which, if repeated, many plants can't recover. Even the transition from the pleasure of jazz, born in the old ghettos, to the anger of rap, product of the new peripheries, is a manifestation of root shock; it is a trauma for those who suffer it, and for society as a whole.
Lower East Side, the small, enigmatic and still resistant neighborhood in Manhattan, (NYC), still keeps the marks of a long history of squatting and counterculture, evidenced by many spaces such as housing projects, social centers and community gardens. The neighborhood is undergoing a strong gentirification process in which squatting has played a special role through recuperation of spaces and local social life. One of these spots provides accomodation for an interesting project of retrieval of the historical live heritage of the neighborhood. MORUS, or Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, is a small but dynamic museum meant to present squatting and its influence on the neighborhood in an innovatory form, at the same time underlining its live traces. Its promoters intend to show how community and grassroot organizations in East Village helped to transform abandoned buildings and empty lots in spaces for a vibrant community as well as contagious for those who visit it from outside.