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The Ladder

A Blog from New America's Asset Building Program

Why Don't American Cities Burn? A Conversation with Author Michael Katz

Published:  February 15, 2012
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Why Don't American Cities Burn?/Penn Press

We're hosting an event this Friday with author and urban historian Michael Katz (also a professor of history at University of Pennsylvania) to discuss his new book, Why Don't American Cities Burn? Devin Fergus, a professor of history at Hunter College in New York, will join us to offer his take on the issues in the book and Reid Cramer will moderate and help link Katz's work to the asset building field.

Why Don't American Cities Burn? looks at American cities as sites of tension defined by profound racial and class inequality. Both the physical structures of cities (neighborhoods, transportation systems, etc.) and their social and economic institutions (schools, public benefits system, banks, etc.) reflect the divisions in our society. The urban form both mirrors and reproduces inequality and exclusion. Katz has dedicated his career to understanding the evolution of the welfare state and the complicated racialized histories of cities and is thus well-positioned to engage in a substantive conversation on these issues. Devin Fergus, also a scholar of twentieth century history and race in America, will be able to draw on his own work to comment on the themes explored in the book. We're looking forward to hearing more from both of them about the way this book and their work more broadly connects to what we do here at the Asset Building Program around wealth inequality, the intergenerational transfer of wealth, and evolving discourse around social development.

We welcome you to join us in person at 12:15 on Friday or to watch online here. We'll also be live tweeting during the event so join in or send questions on Twitter.

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