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'Urban Encounters/Urban Boundaries' Symposium

Monday, 19 March, 2018

The Department of History will host a symposium, “Urban Encounters / Urban Boundaries, Remaking Race, Space, and Citizenship in the Postwar Midwestern City,” from 3 to 5:15 p.m. on Monday, March 19, in the Sinquefield Room, DuBourg Hall.

From Pruitt-Igoe’s dramatic demolition to the BBC’s coinage of the “Delmar Divide” moniker and on to the Ferguson uprisings, St. Louis over recent decades has acquired a reputation as an exemplar of metropolitan hyper-segregation in the United States. But despite the seeming impermeability of urban racial boundaries, the city’s terrain has also been the site for unexpected cross-cultural encounters, imaginative assertions of citizenship, and political critiques that inventively blend aesthetic and activist impulses. The symposium asks us to read our politically fraught contemporary landscapes through a historical lens. It explores the complex interplay between boundary-making and boundary-crossing, oppression and agency, that characterizes St. Louis and nearby Midwestern locales such as Kansas City and East St. Louis. And it urges us to consider how diverse approaches to urban scholarship from social and policy history to cultural studies and art criticism might be combined in order to illuminate the intricate city “encounterings” that continue to shape this region.

The symposium will feature a keynote address by Keona Ervin, Ph.D., of the Departments of History and Black Studies at the University of Missouri, and new research by four SLU History and American Studies doctoral students.