GUH People: Alex Werth

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Filed under: Bay Area, Oakland

Alex Werth is a researcher, cultural organizer, and DJ. In 2019, he received his PhD in Geography with a Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies from UC Berkeley. His dissertation, entitled Racial Reverberations, looked at the longstanding role of popular music and dance in campaigns to empower, but also police and displace, working-class communities of color in Oakland. He currently serves as the Policy Associate at East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO). He took the first Global Urban Humanities seminar course on The City, Arts & Public Space

How did you get involved with the Global Urban Humanities Initiative? Tell us a little bit about your GUH experience.

I started graduate school in 2012. At the time, I was researching and organizing among the ad hoc group of artists, vendors, and activists that turned Oakland First Fridays into a large-scale street festival. I was looking for intellectual tools to make sense of these intersections of race, gentrification, and public culture in ways that neither simply celebrated nor condemned this new urban spectacle. So I was excited to learn that Shannon Jackson and Teresa Caldeira were piloting a GUH methods course that spanned urban and performance studies. A few years later, they invited me to serve as a GSI for the class. Those experiences were very formative for me. They ultimately equipped me to write my dissertation on the racial/spatial politics of music, dance, and public culture in Oakland in ways that remixed theories of the city from the humanities and social sciences alike.

You are working as a Policy Associate at EBHO. Can you tell us more about what you do and how your GUH experience has helped your job?

I work on policy development, advocacy, and coalition building to drive structural solutions to the housing and displacement crises in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. At EBHO, our mission involves both policy work and organizing work, with a focus on residents of affordable housing. Increasingly, we're working to transcend the silos that exist between these two cultures and categories of practice in order to transform how we show up in the movement for housing justice. I think that my experience in GUH--and graduate school, more broadly--prepared me for this work by teaching me to inhabit the interstices between at times divided disciplines, perspectives, and theories of change.

What advice would you give to current GUH students who may be exploring future career prospects?

I'd look for ways to connect your research to people and projects beyond academia. While in graduate school, I curated public cultural events at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Matatu Festival of Stories, and a party series called Good Culture. I also served as the research analyst for the City of Oakland's Cultural Plan, which, in 2018, sought to promote equitable investment and anti-displacement measures through arts and cultural policy. These endeavors expanded my horizons, practically and professionally. They kept me grounded in relations, aesthetics, and politics that complemented my studies. And, more instrumentally, they allowed me to build relationships with local activists, advocates, and organizations that proved invaluable in making the transition from academia to the social sector after graduation.

What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

My wedding! Now that I've graduated, I have a lot more time for family and community. My partner and I are in the process of designing a ritual to weave the two together this May. If that weren't enough of a reason to be excited, as an event producer and DJ, I can't imagine a more fun and meaningful party to plan!

Tell us what you are currently reading, watching and/or listening to.

I'm a quarter of the way through Valeria Luiselli's Lost Children Archive. The book was recommended to me by a former colleague, who thought that I'd enjoy the fact that two of the main characters are sound recorders and amateur geographers. He was right. But it turns out that, even more than the attunement to soundscape, what really draws me in is the fact that the story focuses on a road trip. This sort of slow, unfolding itinerary is my favorite form of travel.

GUH People: Amy Loo

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Filed under: Tokyo

Amy Loo is a UC Berkeley graduate and the recipient of the Davis Projects for Peace Initiative for her work with refugees in Japan. At Cal, Amy majored in Political Science and minored in Chinese Literature, and was a 2018 GUH Undergraduate Certificate Recipient. She now works at a financial advisory firm and within the Real Estate sector, as well as within a unit called “Difficultators Tokyo” to bring awareness to site-specific discrimination. What compelled you to join GUH? I joined GUH during my last year of college, right after hearing about it at GUH open house. It was also the semester of inauguration for…

The Neighborhood in the Morro. Heterogeneity, Difference, and Emergence in a Periphery of the Global South

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Filed under: Sao Paulo

Architecture PhD candidate Giuseppina Forte published an article in the September 2019 issue of Lo Squaderno titled "The Neighborhood in the Morro. Heterogeneity, Difference, and Emergence in a Periphery of the Global South." Her article is a sensory ethnography from a collection of urban ethnographies on São Paulo. Forte completed the Graduate Certificate in Global Urban Humanities in 2019 and is a 2020 Global Urban Humanities Fellow. You can read her abstract and excerpt below as well as the full article.  Forte, Giuseppina. "The Neighborhood in the Morro. Heterogeneity, Difference, and Emergence in a Periphery of the Global South." Lo Squaderno, no. 53 (September 2019). Read the article |…

City, Culture & Politics in the Construction of I-10 in NOLA: 2019 GUH Undergraduate Studio Reflection

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Nero Dotson is a third-year undergraduate majoring in Economics and completed the Undergraduate Certificate in Global Urban Humanities in 2019. He is interested in ways that private companies can contribute to low-income communities and the growing role of businesses and their relationship with the communities in need. He was a student in the 2019 GUH Undergraduate Studio course, New Orleans: Historical Memory and Urban Design, co-taught by Profs. Anna Brand in LAEP and Bryan Wagner in English, and writes a reflection about the class trip to the Crescent City. Congo Square. A historical site and birthplace of jazz where slaves…

Cataloging Connection: Building the Borderlands Archive with Monument Lab

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Filed under: Mexico

The work of Global Urban Humanities (GUH) research studios often continues well after the end of the semester.  In Spring 2018, GUH graduate students explored the US-Mexico borderlands with Professor of Architecture Ronald Rael and Assistant Professor of Art Practice Stephanie Syjuco. One of the students in the class, Cheyenne Concepcion, continued her research as a 2019 Monument Lab National Fellow. Monument Lab is an independent public art and history studio based in Philadelphia. Its co-founder Paul Farber spoke at the Global Urban Humanities symposium Techniques of Memory in April 2019. She describes her project here: Territorial boundaries and borders…

Aliens in the Megacity? A Reflection on the 2019 Graduate Studio Visit to Lagos

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Sourabh Harihar received his MA in Global Studies at Berkeley and holds degrees in civil and ocean engineering from TU Delft (Holland) and the Indian Institute of Technology. In his previous years as a management consultant and a Young India Fellow, he has engaged with projects relating to smart city planning and urban informality in Indian cities. In Spring 2019, he completed the GUH Graduate Certificate as he strongly believes that an urban humanities perspective is extremely critical and valuable to understanding urban development, particularly in the Global South. He was also one of the graduate students who participated in…

Re-envisioning Memorial Cultures: A Reflection on Techniques of Memory

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If you missed the diverse and engaging presentations at this year's Techniques of Memory symposium, fear not! Rhetoric PhD student Linda Kinstler writes below a reflective summary about the symposium. Linda Kinstler was also a member of the Techniques of Memory symposium planning committee. Power Panel at Techniques of Memory Memory is on the move. All around the world, artists, activists, architects, and scholars are re-evaluating approaches to memory and its physical manifestations. In New Orleans, ephemeral monuments to the city’s forgotten heroes and triumphs are going up where markers of Confederate power recently came toppling down; in the Democratic Republic of Congo,…

Architecture and the Cult of Apology

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Congratulations to Architecture PhD Candidate and GUH Student Valentina Rozas-Krause for receiving the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for 2019-2020. The fellowship is awarded to 65 doctoral candidates annually and supports one year of research and writing to help advanced graduate students in the humanities and social sciences in their last year of PhD dissertation writing.  Rozas-Krause will be using her fellowship to complete her dissertation titled Architecture and the Cult of Apology. Read the abstract below to learn more about her research: In 2004, when Argentina’s president apologized for the state’s crimes committed during the last military dictatorship (1976-83), he also inaugurated…

Populism, Art and the City Students Published in Journal of Urban Cultural Studies

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UCB STUDENTS AND FACULTY CAN NOW CHECK OUT THIS JOURNAL FROM OSKICAT. 2018 Populism, Art, and the City students, Jeff Garnand, Tania Osorio Harp, Xander Lenc and Connie Zheng, published their papers in the September 2018 issue of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies. These articles are an extension of their final projects for the Spring 2018 GUH Core Seminar Course co-taught by Jason Luger (City and Regional Planning) and Angela Marino (Theater, Dance & Performance Studies), who co-wrote an introductory article for the issue about the course as interdisciplinary pedagogy for our time. Read the abstract and contributor bios below to get an…

Peoples & Places: Photography and the City

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Having emigrated from Egypt to the United States in November of 2005, Menat Allah El Attma is now a third-year undergraduate student studying English Literature at UC Berkeley and a GUH Undergraduate Certificate student. She is a writer, self-taught visual artist, and Muslim woman who is personally invested in a myriad of art forms. To her, art is necessary to meaningfully study history, architecture, religion, science, language, ourselves and each other. The more she practices with these accessible instruments - the pen, brush and camera - the more she understands that the art is in the telling of the story as much…