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Fordham Urban Consortium

Faculty and students from all disciplines across Fordham engage in research on historical and contemporary urbanization, its challenges and opportunities for the 21st century.

The Urban Consortium at Fordham University organizes and sponsors programs and events that highlight contemporary urban issues. It focuses on engaged, interdisciplinary urban research by graduate students and faculty.

Fordham Law Scholars Featured in “Big Idea” Limited Video Series

Fordham Law logo

from fordham law news: 

Eight members of the Fordham Law faculty recently spoke about the big ideas that drive their work—from frontline workers’ rights to changing power dynamic between cities and states to privacy and crime control—as part of a limited video series.

“Our nation is at a crossroads as we grapple with fundamental questions covering a range of issues that define our society and shape our culture,” said Dean Matthew Diller. “Legal scholarship plays a critical role in helping us understand these issues, the backdrop against which they arise, and in identifying promising ways forward that are true to our core values.”

Urban Consortium members Nestor Davidson and Jennifer Gordon share their ideas below.

THE BIG IDEA: Re-assessing How Cities and States Govern

Professor Nestor Davidson is the Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law and leads the Urban Law Center at Fordham Law. As a founding editor of SLoG Law Blog (State & Local Government Law Blog), Professor Davidson evaluates how cities and states govern using policies such as Home Rule. He argues that policies should empower cities to respond to crises in ways that best serve their communities — now more than ever — in his latest article, “Do Local Governments Really Have Too Much Power? Understanding the National League of Cities’ Principles of Home Rule for the Twenty-First Century,” forthcoming in the North Carolina Law Review.

THE BIG IDEA: Globalization’s Uneven Impact

Professor Jennifer Gordon focuses her scholarship on immigration and labor law, and the struggle for social justice. More specifically, Professor Gordon examines how globalization has opened up the world to a freer flow of goods, money, and services across borders, while the laws surrounding the movement of people and the rights of workers have become more restricted. In her scholarly work, Professor Gordon critiques this contrast and asks how a fairer regime might look. In her forthcoming article in Law and Social Inquiry, “In the Zone: Work at the Intersection of Trade and Migration,” Professor Gordon examines the global regulation of trade and its relationship with migration.

View the full series at Fordham Law News.

New Anthropology Workshop Aims to Turn Academic Text Into Simple Prose

WG Anthropology workshop

from fordham news: 

This past October, a team of Fordham scholars was awarded $20,000 from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research to create a workshop where Fordham undergraduates, local high school students, and scholars work together to make academic articles easier to understand.

“Academic writing is often inaccessible to the people whom the findings most affect, especially young people of color in public high schools,” said Ayala Fader, Ph.D., project collaborator and professor of anthropology at Fordham. “We hope that this workshop gives students access to scholarship on language and inequality and the ability to reflect on how these subjects affect their own lives, while showing them what college life and careers in linguistic anthropology look like.”

This new writing initiative, the Demystifying Language Project (DLP), began with a three-week pilot class in 2019. In collaboration with Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning, two non-Fordham graduate students taught high school students a class on linguistic anthropology, which included simplified academic readings. But at the end of the pilot session, the DLP team realized the teaching material was still too dense and incomprehensible for the students.

“This is tragic because high school students are losing the potential to better understand the ways that language, culture, and power work in the world,” said Fader, a linguistic anthropologist who studies the relationship between language, culture, and inequality. “During the pandemic, the DLP team decided to focus on creating a set of readings that are accessible to all high school students.”

Read the full article by Taylor Ha at Fordham News.

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California charts New Course with Fast-Food Law

Fast food law story

from the los angeles times: 

When you pass a McDonald’s you might assume it’s operated by the global mega-corporation. But in many cases, it’s a franchise owned and run as a small business.

This model has been a pathway for entrepreneurs — many of whom are women, immigrants and minorities — to build wealth and become upwardly mobile. But it has also left workers in one of America’s largest industries with little formal recourse for poor wages or unsafe work conditions.

AB 257 was among a slate of bills tackling employment law this past legislative season.

Chris Rhomberg, a professor of sociology at Fordham University who researches labor history, said a trend toward increasingly layered arrangements between workers and employers — including franchising, outsourcing to subcontractors and reliance on independent contractors — insulates employers from having to comply with labor laws.

“Because it’s hard to get into a workplace to establish a union, workers and unions are exploring other venues to try to get some control over their work and find other ways of regulating health and safety,” Rhomberg said.

Read the full article by Suhauna Hussain at the Los Angeles Times.

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State & Local Government Law Blog Interview with Richard Briffault

Richard Briffault


Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School and Rich Schragger join in conversation with Nestor Davidson on discussing localism, federalism, and governance. The dialogue is featured on

“The dialogue below—a format for reflection that we are going to experiment with here at SLoG—reflects on the history of American anti-urbanism, ways in which the most salient political cleavages we face today are along the urban/rural divide, and how emergent contemporary localism centered on metropolitan-scale conflicts now drive national political life, with so many state legislatures places of structurally entrenched minority power - and what might be done to shift this dynamic.”

Read the full interview by Nestor Davidson at SLoG.

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Olivier Sylvain Named Senior Advisor to FTC Chair Khan

Fordham Law School Professor Olivier Sylvain

from fordham law news: 

Fordham Law School announced that Olivier Sylvain, a professor of communications, information, and administrative law, and the director of the McGannon Center for Communications Research and the academic director of the Center for Law and Information Policy, has been named a senior advisor to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan. During his appointment to the FTC, Sylvain will advise on rulemaking and emerging tech, among other issues.

“I’m thrilled that Chair Khan and the FTC leadership has asked me to join them to think through some of the most vexing problems in our networked information economy today. My work at Fordham and elsewhere has prepared me for much of this, but I never imagined I’d work in a federal agency – let alone in this way. I just hope that I am up to the task.”

Sylvain's most recent writing, scholarship, and public speaking engagements are on liability under the Communications Decency Act, the social impacts of artificial intelligence, and community-owned networked computing. In 2020, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded him a grant to support this work.

Read the full article at Fordham Law News.

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Happy the Elephant’s Right to Liberty

NHRP logo


Four new amicus curiae briefs have been submitted in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s landmark habeas corpus case demanding the right to bodily liberty of an elephant named Happy held alone in captivity in the Bronx Zoo.

All four briefs join the NhRP in urging New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, to recognize Happy as a legal person with the right to liberty and order her release to a sanctuary. In May of this year, the Court agreed to consider the NhRP’s arguments, marking the first time in history the highest court of an English-speaking jurisdiction will hear a habeas corpus case brought on behalf of someone other than a human being. The Court accepts fewer than 5% of cases seeking permission to appeal.

The author of the public opinion brief is Dr. Garrett Broad (Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University):

“Fundamentally, this Court should trust that the public is intelligent enough to understand that our legal system evolves over time, particularly when new and convincing scientific, political, and moral arguments emerge. For these and other reasons outlined in this brief, I once again urge this Court to grant the Petitioner-Appellant Nonhuman Rights Project’s requested relief. Doing so will ensure that Happy is able to live her life commensurate with the dignity that the public believes she deserves … The recognition of Happy’s right to bodily liberty and the use of habeas corpus to transfer her to an elephant sanctuary is not only appropriate from a scientific, ethical, and legal perspective, but it is also consistent with contemporary American public norms.”

Happy is a 50-year-old Asian elephant who has been held in captivity since 1977 in a one-acre exhibit in the Bronx Zoo, which is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society. For the last 15 years Happy—the first elephant in the world to demonstrate self-awareness via the mirror test and the first to have habeas corpus hearings to determine the lawfulness of her imprisonment—has lived without the company of other elephants.

Read the full article by Lauren Choplin at

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The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence

AI graphic

from fordham news: 

The concept of artificial intelligence has been with us since 1955, when a group of researchers first proposed a study of “the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines.” At the same time, it seems like not a day goes by without news about some development, making it feel very futuristic.

It’s also the purview of professors from a variety of fields at Fordham, such as Damian Lyons, Ph.D., a professor of computer science, R.P. Raghupathi Ph.D., a professor of information, technology and operations at Gabelli School of Business, and Lauri Goldkind, Ph.D., a professor at the Graduate School of Social Service.

Listen to the podcast by Fordham Urban Studies alumnus Patrick Verel:

Read the full transcript at Fordham News.

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The New State & Local Government Law Blog

SLoG Blog logo


Welcome SLoG!

A group of prominent state and local government law scholars have launched SLoG, the State & Local Government Law blog. Launched by founding editors Meryl Chertoff (Georgetown), Nestor Davidson (Fordham), Sheila Foster (Georgetown), Daniel Rodriguez (Northwestern), David Schleicher (Yale), and Miriam Seifter (Wisconsin), SLoG is sure to be a must-read for those interested in legal questions relating to state and local government, including land-use regulation and intergovernmental relations, among other things. I recommend bookmarking the site and checking back often.

Read the full article by Jonathan H. Adler at

Identity vs branding: The power of messiness

Ethical Schools


Identity vs branding: The power of messiness

“Part One of a two-part interview. We speak with Dr. Garrett Broad of Fordham University about social media and how it informs student outlooks. One of Dr. Broad’s key objectives is to help students to be comfortable with the messiness–the fluidity and complexity–of identity and to resist the pressure to be fully formed, branded. High school teachers can help students to understand the factors that shape people’s perspectives.They can encourage students to be open-minded, cultivate intellectual humility, and “show up” for social justice.”

View the podcast at

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Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook - Exploring the legacy of inside-outside organizing

Center for Constitutional Rights


As its on-going celebration of the updated sixth edition of the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook, Center for Constitutional Rights Co-author and Senior Legal Worker Ian Head speaks with a number of people who have influenced and been influenced by the handbook for the 41st episode: “Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook: Exploring the legacy of inside-outside organizing.”

In this episode, Ian goes back to 1973 with Brian Glick, when the first Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook which was published as a manual to demystify the complexities of the law for non-lawyers. Brian provides the history of how the manual came to be. Jenipher Jones Bonio discusses the mission of the Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a group of anonymous incarcerated activists working to abolish prisons and their current advocacy action, the Shut’em Down demonstrations. Lisa Drapkin talks about the impact—the number of requests for the handbook and how people on the inside use the handbook. And Chinyere Ezie highlights what's new in the handbook regarding LGBTQIA+ law, including new case law about transgender healthcare, visitation, and equal protection, and an appendix that provides state-by-state policies.

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript at (PDF)

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The ones who made it: leaving Guinea to build a life in Europe

Cry Like A Boy podcast


Cry Like a Boy is’s first original podcast produced in collaboration with Euronews. The project explores the pressures linked to 'being a man' in Africa and takes a look at how men are changing themselves and their communities for the better.

Episode 14:

“Guinean boys travel thousands kilometres to Europe for what they call ‘the adventure’, a journey essential to becoming “real men”.

They travel through the French Alps in sub-zero temperatures, without warm clothes and often without enough food to get to their final destination. A group of French people is helping the migrants who are lost to find their way.”


“Anthropologist Julie Kleinman, author of the book Adventure Capital about illegal migrants in Paris says, the desire to leave home in some West African cultures is a coming of age rite, and succeeding means you are a man.”.

Julie Kleinman: In the 19th century there are many documented cases of leaving one's village to become a man. In most of West Africa, leaving and migrating is a kind of initiation rite through which one becomes a man.”


Read the full story by Makeme Bamba & Danielle Olavario at


Julie Kleinman, 'Adventure Capital: Migration and the Making of an African Hub in Paris'

Fordham icon Research

At a Glance: Preemption and the Pandemic – The Variant Version

LSSC At a Glance

from lssc: 

The Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC) is a national hub that coordinates and creates efforts to counter the abuse of preemption“Preemption occurs when a higher level of government (such as a state legislature) restricts or withdraws the authority of a lower level of government (such as a city council) to act on a particular issue.” ( and strengthen local democracy.

“Periodically throughout the pandemic the Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC) has published a weekly news digest covering the conflicts between state and local governments over public health protections. Now that the Delta variant’s rapid spread has again sparked showdowns over masking orders, school and business closings and vaccine passports between state and local governments nationwide, LSSC has reprised this once-a-week recap.

View 8/30/21 Update

Read the paper from the International Municipal Lawyers Association 2020 Virtual Annual Conference by Nestor Davidson, Kim Haddow & Laura Huizar:

Fordham icon Research


Institutionalized racism and violence against African Americans and other minorities have been part of our society for centuries. The brutal killing of George Floyd was one of many acts of violence against black lives, but it has created a tipping point, sparking protests nationwide, and, along with them, the recognition that our minds, our society, and our institutions have to change fundamentally to address racial injustice. The Fordham Urban Consortium stands in solidarity with the protestors and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Fordham Urban Consortium is an interdisciplinary, university-wide research consortium, where we work to understand cities not from just one academic perspective, but from the recognition that it takes multiple disciplinary angles and perspectives to understand our cities' challenges—and their promise. Cities are not just containers of social interaction, but they are true incubators of social relations, and, sometimes, of societal change. The current movement started in our nation's biggest cities, but has since spread around the world, as well as into rural communities across the country, demanding justice and change. In the light of these protests and their focus on ending violence against black bodies, and the institutionalized racial disadvantages facing Black, indigenous, and people of color, we, the members of the Fordham Urban Consortium, reaffirm our commitment to confronting these injustices in our research and teaching, as well as in our daily lives.

Donovan - Canaries in the Data Mine

Recent Publications:

gregory t. donovan
Canaries in the Data Mine

Understanding the Proprietary Design of Youth Environments

Palgrave Macmillan
October 22, 2020

from the publisher:

Canaries in the Data Mine offers an account of the lived experiences and cultural expectations of young people growing up in digital environments increasingly owned by others and designed for profit. At the book’s core is a participatory research project that first interviewed New York City teens about their digital habits and then engaged a group of five young people in designing the prototypical platform of their time: a social network.

In this engaging book, Gregory T. Donovan penetrates beyond the interface to consider the digital geography of contemporary youth, arguing that understanding what young people are grappling with portends what is, or will soon be, felt by society at large. Drawing from in-depth interviews and design workshops, he shows how informational capitalism is reproduced at an intimate scale as well as how involving young people in digital design can foster capacities for reworking and resisting the conditions of a rising rentier society.

Also recently published by Gregory T. Donovan:

 “Minor Data: Reading the ‘Smart’ City Through Engaged Pedagogy,” in Critical Reading Across the Curriculum, Volume II: Social and Natural Sciences (eds. Robert J. Diyanni and Anton Borst), Wiley-Blackwell, 2020.

Fordham icon Research

Law And The New Urban Agenda

Nestor M. Davidson & Geeta Tewari - Law And The New Urban Agenda
20% Discount: code BSE20

from Nestor M. Davidson & Geeta Tewari

Dear Colleagues,

The Urban Law Center's newest volume, Law and the New Urban Agenda, is available now.

Given COVID-19’s impact on cities globally, it is more important than ever to highlight the significance of urban law and policy for students. This new book offers a constructive and critical valuation of the legal dimensions of the U.N.’s New Urban Agenda (NUA), adopted at the 2016 United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to foster a globally shared understanding of the vital link between urbanization and a sustainable future. A myriad of legal challenges – and opportunities – stand between the NUA and its goals. Examining case studies from natural disasters and resulting urban migration in Honshu and Tacloban, to innovative collaborative governance in Barcelona and Turin, to the accessibility of public space for informal workers in New Delhi and Accra, and power scales among Brazil’s metropolitan regions, the contributions in this new book frame an important academic dialogue about the legal dimensions of the NUA, all of which will be of interest to scholars across the range of urban studies.

Law and the New Urban Agenda underscores the value of urban law as a discipline in supporting the healthy development of inclusive cities for all. This timely volume sheds light on the many complex challenges that urban growth poses for legal systems around the globe, and I commend this eclectic group of scholars for their engagement with the New Urban Agenda. – Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat

Pre-order Law And The New Urban Agenda.

Reform Home Rule To Protect Cities From State Interference

Nestor M. Davidson

from law360: 

“We are at a moment of great urgency for local democracy. Our cities drive the global economy, with the nation’s 10 most productive metro areas alone generating a record $7.2 trillion in economic output in 2018 — more than the economies of 38 states combined.

But a critical factor determining whether they succeed is the basic structure of their legal authority. And that authority — home rule — is woefully out of date.

That’s why the National League of Cities and the Local Solutions Support Center launched a new vision for home rule: "Principles of Home Rule for the 21st Century" (PDF).
  • Cities must have the full breadth of legal authority necessary to govern in a rapidly changing world.
  • Cities need protected fiscal authority with affirmative support from the states.
  • States must exercise oversight with a greater respect for local communities whose democratic choices they are displacing.
  • Home rule must protect the core of local democracy, barring the targeted attacks that are becoming a hallmark of preemption.
Our problems are serious, complex and deeply worrying. If we don’t seize this moment for reform, states will continue to weaken the power of cities, undermine the agency of the four out of five of us who live in cities, chill innovation in local governments and block solutions to some of our most pressing challenges — climate change, growing inequities, community safety and environmental conditions.”

Read the full article by Nestor M. Davidson at Law360.

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Prof. Kimani Paul-Emile Appointed Law and Public Affairs Fellow at Princeton University

Kimani Paul-Emile

from fordham law news: 

Professor Kimani Paul-Emile has been named a 2020–2021 fellow in Princeton University’s  Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA). Paul-Emile is Associate Director and Head of Domestic Programs and Initiatives at Fordham Law School’s Center on Race, Law & Justice and Faculty Co-Director of the Stein Center for Law & Ethics. She specializes in the areas of law and biomedical ethics, health law, anti-discrimination law, and race and the law. Paul-Emile will spend her LAPA fellowship working on a book project, tentatively titled Americans on Drugs: Six Drugs, Three Regimes, and the Making of the American Drug User.

Read the full article by Erin DeGregorio at Fordham Law News.

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Fordham Law School Launches Real Estate Degree

Law School Plaza Entrance

from the observer: 

Fordham School of Law will be the first law school in New York City and one of only six universities nationwide to offer a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in real estate. The 24-credit LL.M. course will take an academic year and is “intended for attorneys looking to deepen their understanding of real estate law or to open up new career opportunities in real estate,” according to Fordham’s website.

Nestor Davidson, faculty director of the Fordham Urban Law Center and Albert A. Walsh chair in Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law, believes that there are many upsides to having a real estate master’s program situated in New York City.

“The fact that we are in the global capital of real estate makes a big difference. If you’re going to be learning about how the development process works in its most complex forms, how real estate intersects in global capital markets … you get a global perspective,” Davidson said.

Read the full article by Gus Dupree at The Observer.

How California is Redefining Rent Control

from fordham newsroom: 

In a video for the Wall Street Journal, Professor Nestor Davidson shares his expert opinion on California’s new rent control law (03:27) — aimed at solving housing issues statewide — and what it could mean for national policy.

From Davidson (04:51):

“So if the question is, what’s the trajectory of this policy? I don’t think we’ve seen it play out fully. I think there’s a lot of energy from local government officials and tenants themselves, and I think that energy is actually going to increase. We’re in a housing crisis across the country. Although rent regulation and tenant protection isn’t the only solution to that crisis I think there’s a growing recognition that this is a policy area that’s garnering increasing support.”

Built Heritage special issue on Shanghai

Built Heritage Shanghai cover

A new special issue of Built Heritage, “Shanghai: Heritage at the Crossroads of Culture,” is edited by Fordham Professor of History Rosemary Wakeman. The journal is published by the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai.

from wakeman's introduction: 

Shanghai is among the most dynamic global cities of both the 20th and 21st centuries. The city is China’s gateway to the world and its aspirations for the future. With more than 24 million people, 40 percent of whom are migrants, it is a global crossroads and one of the most multicultural cities in the world. It has more skyscrapers than New York and a public transport system that overtakes most global cities. Shanghai is a trading city, an entrepot of commodities. It exports electronic information products, automobiles, petrochemicals, fine steel, equipment, and biomedicine. It has the highest GDP of any city in China’s mainland and has become one of the leading financial sectors in East Asia, with major Western banks flocking to its new financial centre. With well over 500 multinational companies, the city attracts more foreign investment flows than most developing countries. Along with them has come a highly-skilled workforce from all over the world. Shanghai’s urban middle-class has fuelled China’s consumer revolution and a property boom. Sleek skyscrapers and glamorous malls, its brilliant skyline, dominate the global image of Shanghai and beckon tourists to its shores.

 Rosemary Wakeman, “Shanghai and New York: Mid-Century Urban Avant-Gardes

Read more at Built Heritage.

Empirical Evidence in the Administration of Family Law

colorful swings

from the regulatory review :

“Each year, reports of alleged abuse and neglect of nearly 7.5 million children reach local child welfare agencies across the United States. With so many reports, agencies need to determine which require an urgent response. Many child welfare agencies are turning to empirical evidence to help triage these cases.

“In a recent paper, Clare Huntington, a law professor at Fordham University, acknowledges that empirical evidence—especially the use of predictive analytics—can improve child welfare policies and practices. But she argues that empirical data must be used with great caution.”

Even when empirical evidence is relevant, decisionmakers must be cautious about how they use it. To guide this nuance, this Essay’s framework calls for more effective gatekeeping mechanisms across the institutions of family law. It warns decisionmakers to be attentive to the potential for empirical evidence to reflect and refract the legal salience of intersecting identities, including race, gender, and class. And the framework encour­ages a robust role for legal scholars to make empirical evidence accessible and comprehensible for those crafting legal rules and policies.

Read the full report by Meghan Downey at Penn Law's The Regulatory Review.

Why a Ghent-like system is needed in the US

Jennifer Gordon

from the center for american 

The Ghent system—an arrangement whereby trade unions help deliver government-supported unemployment insurance—exists in its truest form only in a handful of countries, including Sweden, Belgium, and Denmark. However, the United States has a number of Ghent-like policies where unions deliver or help people access governmental benefits—including workforce training, retirement benefits, and enforcement of workplace laws. Expanding upon these models would increase union membership and improve the quality of public programs in the United States.

In "Strengthening Labor Standards Enforcement Through Partnerships with Workers' Organizations" (Politics & Society, 2010), Fordham Professor of Law Jennifer Gordon and Janice Fine of Rutgers University argue that there is a mismatch between the enforcement strategies of most federal and state labor inspectorates and the industries in which noncompliance continues to be a problem. The authors propose augmenting labor inspectorates by giving public interest groups like unions and worker centers a formal, ongoing role in enforcement in low-wage sectors.

Under a Ghent-like co-enforcement model, government could complement its traditional enforcement activity by partnering with unions and worker organizations, Fine and Gordon have explained.

Read the full report at

Gentrification in New York

Strassenzug im Harlem

If you go out the door and are surrounded by smoothies and coffee roasters and the Craft Beer is served in jars for a great deal of money, you know this area has been thoroughly gentrified. This can be seen in Berlin as well as in New York at a glance.

New York is becoming more and more expensive, many can hardly afford the rent in the city and are repressed - and the protest against gentrification and repression has little chance. But how do the New Yorkers actually perceive it, when once rundown neighborhoods are upgraded and everything is getting more and more expensive?

Listen to the podcast with Associate Professor of Political Science Annika M. Hinze on Radiobrücke USA:

Recent Papers