Learning from Detroit
Turbulent Urbanism in the 21st Century

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A Michigan Meeting Designed to Grapple with the global problems of urban decline and urban resilience by focusing on the paradigmatic expample of Detroit.

This event is one of the Michigan Meetings, a series of annual interdisciplinary meetings on topics of national and international significance sponsored by the Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School and with support from across the university. It is designed to grapple with the global problems of urban decline and urban resilience by focusing on the paradigmatic example of Detroit.


This is an apt time for scholars in the social sciences to refocus attention on Detroit. The city and its metropolitan region face enormous challenges at the beginning of the 21st century, and while this agonizing process of urban decline has been especially acute in Detroit, similar processes have occurred – and are occurring – in other metropolitan areas around the world. What, then, can residents and scholars of other distressed cities learn from Detroit?  What can Detroit learn from other cities in decline and struggling with the process of reinvention? These are the key questions prompting our symposium. What can we learn from Detroit that will inform a theoretical, but also a practical, understanding of the turbulent post-industrial urbanism of the late 20th and early 21st centuries? Conversely, how does the experience of decline in other cities nationally and internationally, many of which follow historically and situationally distinct trajectories towards similar ends, help us understand dynamics in Detroit? Our aim is to begin to develop a theoretical foundation and scholarly agenda for understanding cities in acute distress and the turbulent urbanism of decline that attends the dismantling of once-thriving industrial cities now undergoing wrenching processes of decay, and even collapse, while maintaining key pockets of resilience and resistance that might point the way toward reinvention, revitalization, and renewal.


We ask that all participants commit to attending all of the sessions structuring this day and a half event, which includes both plenary and concurrent panels as well as special discussion-oriented Forums. All participants are asked to please pre-select a Forum to attend when you register.


Confirmed speakers include: Christina Reicher, Brent Ryan, Jason Hackworth, George Galster, Heather Thompson, Joe Darden, Bruno Oliverira Cruz, Annegret Haase, Jamie Peck, Khalil Ligon, Akwugo Emejulu, Jerry Herron, Laurence Ralph, Dieter Rink, Renia Ehrenfeucht, Monica White, Sam Butler, Bob Beauregard, Avis Vidal, Clarence Lang, members of the UM faculty and others.  


Additional conference sponsors include: U-M Rackham School of Graduate Studies, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, School of Social Work, Taubman College oc Architecture and Urban Planning, Institute for Social Research, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Department of Sociology, Semester in Detroit Program, Residential College, Department of History, International Institute, Institute for the Humanities, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center’s Brazil Initiative and U-M Office of Research, and the UM Detroit Center.



915 east washington street ann arbor michigan

915 East Washington Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 United States

Hours of operation:
The Rackham Building is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to midnight.

Phone: (734) 764-8572
Fax: (734) 763-6622

Email address:

To register, please click here, and it will take you to another link.