Epistemological Impossibilities

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Yesterday, on Halloween, a driver killed three people and injured four on a sidewalk in The Bronx. This morning, across New York City many streets were free of automobiles. Public space usually reserved solely for cars and trucks became dedicated to runners in the Marathon, spectators, and anyone who wanted to enjoy a bit of the fleeting car-free utopia on foot, bicycle, skateboard, or whatever. The contrast is stark. Not only are NYC streets given over to private vehicles almost all of the time, when a driver rampages onto a sidewalk, on the day when children are most likely to be frolicking on sidewalks and streets, the city seems to give a collective shrug—despite waking up to the pacific, friendly experience of today’s utterly different streetscape.

Advocates for safe streets rightly insist that deaths like yesterday’s are preventable, not inevitable. (So too can we fix the very dangerous situations of aggressive and irresponsible driving witnessed daily on city streets that don’t lead to death or injury.) Advocates also recognize that such deaths signal or portend the failure of the efforts on the part of the Mayor’s office and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to make streets safer, whether as “Vision Zero” or in the more diffuse and myriad forms that have proliferated since Janette Sadik-Khan began her six years heading the DOT in 2007. For many advocates of safe streets, however, this failure also signals a need for a punitive, police-led effort in preventing such vehicular violence. Here is where I part ways with (some of) my fellow advocates for safe streets. The carceral state is no answer.

Monday, October 12, 2015

At the 2015 American Studies Association Annual Meeting in Toronto last weekend, I was honored to receive Finalist mention (second place) for the Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, awarded annually by the Association. I am grateful to the prize committee, Professors Alyosha Goldstein, Lisa Hajjar, and Karen Shimakawa, for their recognition of my dissertation, "American Streets, Foreign Territory: How Counterinsurgent Police Waged War on Crime." As the ASA says, "The Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, established in 1974, has been awarded annually since 1987 by the Association for the best dissertation in American Studies."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I finished my dissertation this spring, with the defense at the beginning of May. To finish was a big relief but in many ways it was anticlimactic. There were too many intermediate steps at which I was almost done. I never felt like I was actually done, even when I graduated. On the bright side, at each almost-done step, I celebrated. Here's a snapshot of what I did in the ensuing couple months.

I have mostly left the dissertation aside in the weeks since I finished, trying to estrange myself from it so that when I return to it to begin revisions it will not be so familiar. The other day I glanced at a page while looking for a citation. I read a sentence or two. Though extremely familiar, they did not sound exactly as I thought they sounded the first hundred times I re-read them. That is a good thing. A little while longer, and I will be ready to begin rethinking.

In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of other writing.

Past Talks

Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 11:45am
Salon 2, Renaissance Arlington Capital View, Arlington, VA
Panel: Cold War Urbanism: Social Science, Urban Development and the Superpowers

American Studies Association Annual Meeting

Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 2:00pm
Westin Bonaventure, San Gabriel A
Panel: What Comes of Fury? Responses to California’s 1960s and 1970s Urban Crisis

Critical Legal Conference

Friday, September 5, 2014 - 2:00pm
Fulton 103, University of Sussex
Stream: Law - Capital - Pacification

© 2015 Stuart Schrader