New School News

Joseph Heathcott, Associate Professor of Urban Studies, Awarded $280,000 Grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation

Joseph Heathcott, Associate Professor of Urban Studies, has been awarded a three-year $280,000 grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation for his project “The Rust Archipelago: Natural and Human Ecologies After Abandonment.” Working with a team of graduate students, Heathcott will research communities beset by vacancy, deindustrialization, and capital flight in five U.S. cities: Philadelphia, Gary, Birmingham, St. Louis, and Detroit. The goal of this three-year project is to understand the physical, social, and ecological dimensions of these places, and how residents cope with these changes while developing strategies for resilience.

The prestigious award is provided through the Henkel Foundation program Lost Cities. Perception of and living with abandoned cities in the cultures of the world.” According to the Foundation, this program “is designed to be interdisciplinary and to facilitate projects in which there are varied dimensions to the examination of abandoned cities. At the same time, there should be a focus on causal correlations, both with regard to specific individual cultures and spanning all cultures, and on specifics of place and time.” 

Heathcott’s project will run from 2021-2024 and will culminate in a series of articles as well as a book. “I am thrilled that the Gerda Henkel Foundation recognizes the importance of this topic,” said Heathcott.  “We’ve heard a lot over the years about the impact of deindustrialization on our cities, but we do not know nearly enough about how communities have worked hard to pick up the pieces and carve out lives after abandonment.  This grant will give us the opportunity to make a deep dive into such places.  At stake are major questions about inequality, racial justice, and the right to the city under capitalism.”

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