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Posts in Contemporary Era
Archiving for Access and Activism: An Interview with Interference Archive

Archiving for Access and Activism: An Interview with Interference Archive

By Emily Brooks

Interference Archive is a Brooklyn-based organization that collects and houses materials created as part of social movements. These materials, which include posters, flyers, publications, buttons, and much more, are stored and exhibited in an open stacks archival collection at 314 7th street in Park Slope. In addition to organizing and maintaining the collection, which is open to all, Interference’s volunteers also showcase the archival collections through exhibits and various community events aimed at supporting contemporary activism. This spring, I sat down with two of Interference’s volunteers, Ryan and Nora, to talk about how the space works and the role they see the archive playing in connecting social movements of the past with those of today.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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The Picture the Homeless Oral History Project: Don’t Talk About Us, Talk With Us

The Picture the Homeless Oral History Project: Don’t Talk About Us, Talk With Us

Today on the blog, former Executive Director of Picture the Homeless Lynn Lewis speaks with Molly Rosner about her experience conducting oral history interviews as both an organizer and an oral historian. Quotes from interviewees in the project have been interspersed throughout the text.

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History Museums and Capitalism: The Need for Critical Conversations

History Museums and Capitalism: The Need for Critical Conversations

By Andrew Urban

In November, 2018, the Public Historian published a review that I wrote of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s newest tour: Under One Roof. The tour interprets the lives of three families who lived in the tenement at 103 Orchard Street — which was acquired by the museum in 2007 — from the 1940s up until the recent past. Addressing post-World War II immigration and migration to the Lower East Side, the educators leading the tours that I took did an excellent job highlighting how Americans have frequently been reluctant to welcome the world’s “huddled masses,” national myths notwithstanding.

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Capital City: An Interview with Sam Stein

Capital City: An Interview with Sam Stein

In Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State, Sam Stein offers a theoretical and empirically grounded discussion of how gentrification became a generalized fact of urban life in the 21st century, and how we can not only stop it, but also build cities that work for all, not just the wealthy few. Centering his discussion around the contradictory and often hidden role of professional planners, Stein illustrates how the state has been central to the rise of real estate in urban political economies, leveraging state “police powers” to turn devalued urban land into a profitable commodity — the so called “spatial fix” that capital requires from time to time in moments of crisis. By bringing to life the diverse set of state and non-state actors responsible for turning the places we cherish into products to be bought and sold, Stein also reveals the contingencies and limits of real estate capital’s power over our lives.

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How Do We Mourn Publicly? Memorialization and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

How Do We Mourn Publicly?: Memorialization and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

By Kim Dramer

Around the turn of the 20th century, the shirtwaist, a type of blouse, was the choice of fashionable New York women. Stylish women in shirtwaists embellished by intricate tucks and lace inserts cut an elegant figure on the streets of New York. But the ample cut of the shirtwaist also gave the freedom of movement required by women who toiled in the city’s sweatshops where the shirtwaists were cut, sewn and trimmed. Across lower Manhattan, garment factories sprang up in which row after row of young women sat behind sewing machines. In their pursuit of the American dream, they toiled long hours for low wages, enduring dangerous working conditions. At the turn of the 20th century, there were more than 500 blouse factories in New York City, employing upwards of 40,000 workers.[1]

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Dreaming Diaspora in Chinatowns Around the Globe: An Interview with Diane Wong

Dreaming Diaspora in Chinatowns Around the Globe: An Interview with Diane Wong

Today on Gotham, Minju Bae interviews Diane Wong, co-curator of Homeward Bound: Global Intimacies in Converging Chinatowns, a recently-concluded exhibition at Pearl River Mart. Homeward Bound displayed photographs from thirteen Chinatowns around the world. These photographs came from the curators’ personal projects to learn from the people who have built homes, families, and communities in a global diaspora. The exhibit will travel to a number of other locations starting in the spring of next year.

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A Call for a Progressive Spatial Politics

A Call for a Progressive Spatial Politics

By Scott M. Larson

Wins by left-leaning candidates in 2018 midterm elections have led many to suggest a progressive revolution is under way in Democratic — if not American — ​politics. With each successive victory progressive candidates have staked out bold positions on hot-button issues from Medicare-for-all to a $15 federal minimum wage and free college education.

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One Hundred Years of Equity Strikes and Labor Solidarity

One Hundred Years of Equity Strikes and Labor Solidarity

By Caroline Propersi-Grossman

In August 1919, following months of stalled negotiations, the New York City section of Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) called a strike against The Producing Managers Association, a trade group composed of theater owners and producers including the Shubert, Ziegfield, and Belasco theater owners. Equity’s demands were modest. The strike called for a standardized eight-show work week with additional compensation for extra matinee performances and higher wages for chorus performers. The Producing Managers Association responded by refusing to recognize Equity, filing injunctions against individual actors, and occasionally attempting to open negotiations with the actors’ union on a theater-by-theater basis.

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The Defiant: An Interview with Dawson Barrett

The Defiant: An Interview with Dawson Barrett

By Nick Juravich

Today, I’m talking to Dawson Barrett about his new book, The Defiant: Protest Movements in Post-Liberal America, out now from New York University Press. The book has been getting some excellent coverage in the academic blogosphere recently; you can read an excerpt from the prologue over at Tropics of Meta, and a thoughtful interview that Dawson did with fellow UW-Milwaukee alum Joe Walzer for Labor Online. These two pieces, read together, are a great introduction to stakes, ideas, and arguments in The Defiant. Rather than recap them here at Gotham, we recommend checking them out.

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Heidi Waleson's Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America

Heidi Waleson's Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America

Reviewed by Lily Kass

Heidi Waleson’s Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in Americatakes us behind the scenes at a long-beloved, and recently resurrected, New York cultural institution. The New York City Opera was founded in 1944 when the New York City Council and Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia inaugurated the City Center of Music and Drama. As one of the center’s constituent performance ensembles, the opera company’s original mission was to bring opera to the people through affordable ticket prices and popular repertoire. Waleson recounts the company’s struggle to survive through the decades as views changed about the importance of opera, both in New York City and around the country. Readers of the book are made constantly aware that City Opera, even from the start, was only barely cheating death and that its demise was preordained.

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