Special Issue Preview: Activist Scholarship

Articles from our current Special Issue, Activist Scholarship, have been posted! Please see all the links below for an introduction to all of our articles in this issue.


By Guest Editor: Kitty Kelly Epstein

Scholar-activism is an old practice with a relatively new name. Scholars have been actively working for social justice for decades. W.E.B. DuBois, for example, created some of the first American sociology studies while starting the NAACP and Pan-Africanist movements and permanently upending the Confederate version of Reconstruction. And, while not calling it “activism,” academics on the Right have often worked to have their policies implemented. Milton Friedman’s free market policymaking in Chile after the coup against the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende is just one notable example.

The Urban Affairs Association has developed initiatives to support scholar-activism. One of these is an award in honor of urbanist Marilyn Gittell. Another encouraged several gatherings of scholar activists, and some articles in this special issue resulted from those gatherings. The issues and methodologies used in these articles are varied. In one case, the employment of Black workers is increased on a huge publicly funded construction project. In another, neoliberal assumptions are turned upside down to reveal the brilliance of young people armed with a framework for analyzing their own life experiences. A third discusses an activist’s use of social media and its relation to ethnographic studies. And others take up problems of planning and displacement.

Table of Contents

1. Waiting for Wakanda: Activists challenge Black exclusion from the construction industry, by Kitty Kelly Epstein

2. An activist in the field: Social media, ethnography, and community, by Stephen Danley

3. Sustainability backfire: The unintended consequences of failing to engage neighborhood residents in policymaking, by George C. Homsy & Siobhan Hart

4. The role of social justice frameworks in an era of neoliberalism: Lessons from youth activism, by Barbara Ferman

5. Surviving suburban redevelopment: Resisting the displacement of immigrant-owned small businesses in Wheaton, Maryland, by Willow S. Lung-Amam

6. Metropolitan planning in a vacuum: Lessons on regional equity planning from Baltimore’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, by Nicholas Finio, Willow Lung-Amam, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Casey Dawkins & Elijah Knaap

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