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A People's Atlas of Detroit

Edited by Linda Campbell, Andrew Newman, Sara Safransky, and Tim Stallmann

Award Winner

Detroit, Urban Studies, Geography, By WSU Faculty

Great Lakes Books Series

Published: February 2020
ISBN: 9780814342978
Pages: 352 Size: 10x8
Illustrations: 52 photographs; 52 maps; 6 charts
Published: March 2020
ISBN: 9780814342985
Book Images

Detroit is widely known as the Motor City, but it has also given rise to some of the world's most important urban social movements. Edited by Linda Campbell, Andrew Newman, Sara Safransky, and Tim Stallmann, A People’s Atlas of Detroit narrates the lived experiences of people engaged in political battles central to Detroit's future and that of urban America. This interdisciplinary volume features contributions by over fifty figures from movement-building efforts in Detroit, including activists, farmers, students, educators, scholars, not-for-profit and city government workers, and members of neighborhood block clubs. Developed from a community-based participatory project, the book speaks to the challenges of fighting for land and housing justice, food sovereignty, economic democracy, accountable governance, and the right to the city. A People’s Atlas of Detroit weaves together maps, poetry, interviews, photographs, essays, and stories to critique status quo urban governance while elucidating radical visions for change.

By drawing upon the collective analyses of Detroiters engaged in the front lines of struggle, A People’s Atlas of Detroit argues that it is only by confronting racial injustice and capitalism head-on that communities can overcome the depths of economic and ecological crises afflicting cities today. This innovative collection builds bridges between multiple areas of social activism as well as current scholarship in geography, anthropology, history, and urban studies to inspire communities in Detroit and other cities towards transformative change.

Linda Campbell is a Detroit resident and director of Building Movement Project, Detroit and Detroit People's Platform.
Andrew Newman is an associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State University.
Sara Safransky is a human geographer and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.
Tim Stallmann is a cartographer and a worker-owner at Research Action Design.

Contributors Include:
Gabriela Alcazar, Rhonda Anderson, Danielle Atkinson, Kaisha Brezina, Lila Cabbil, Michelle Cassidy, William Copeland, Dessa Cosma, Patrick Crouch, Kezia Curtis, Wayne Curtis, Michael Darroch, Isra El-beshir, Dianne Feeley, Tanesha Flowers, Kathy Foster, Lee Gaddies, Janice Hale, Joselyn Fitzpatrick Harris, Imani Harris, Jeanine Hatcher, Elena Herrada, Charity Hicks, Alex B. Hill, Shea Howell, Robert Johnson, Herbert Jones, Sarah Khan, Carmen Malis King, Jacqueline Lacey, Jenny Lee, Kate Levy, Mark Luborsky, Emily Macgillivray, Jeannette Marble, Vincent Martin, Michelle Martinez, Cecily McClellan, Cece McGuire, Shanna Merola, Tiya Miles, Isaac Ginsberg Miller, Gregg Newsom, Alexandra Passarelli, James Perkinson, Tova Perlmutter, Tawana "Honeycomb" Petty, Jessi Quizar, Josiah Rector, Lee Rodney, Paul Rodriguez, Zak Rosen, Lauren Rosenthal, Joan Ross, Ayana Rubio, Andrea Sankar, Betty Scruse, Amy Senese, Yusef "Bunchy" Shakur, Syri Simpson, Jerry Smith, Lottie Spady, Soh Suzuki, Amelia Wieske, Deborah Williamson, Malik Yakini

A People’s Atlas of Detroit is a remarkable achievement. Not only is Detroit one of the most important cities to understand, but this book includes a multiplicity of forms of knowledge, which, when woven together, tell a powerful story. A People’s Atlas of Detroit offers a new model and standard for critical urban geography.

– Laura Pulido, University of Oregon, co-author of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles

This book not only works to understand the many ways Detroit has come to help establish the urban fabric of the United States, but does so through a deeply embodied and popular mode of analysis that feels generative well beyond the specifics of the city itself.

– Nik Heynen, editor of Annals of the American Association of Geographers and co-director of the Cornelia Walker Bailey Program on Land and Agriculture

Detroit organizing has always been among the smartest, sharpest, and innovative work throughout people’s history. This is a project that provides more evidence of this fact—a thoughtful, important resource developed by the people in the very best tradition of community-led and -centered research and analysis. A People’s Atlas of Detroit proves once again that if we seek to understand a place, we must break with the extractive practice of traditional ‘research’ and listen to the people who make it what it is.

– Makani Themba, author and chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies

Reading the almanac in this extraordinary time makes you wonder what kind of city Detroit will become after the post-pandemic economic dislocation takes root. What will happen to the city budget, and already bare-bones emergency services? Will redevelopment stop? Will Detroit become a more equitable city? If those questions interest you, "A People’s Atlas of Detroit" is very worthy of your attention.

– Bill McGraw, Deadline Detroit

The Atlas’ ability to traverse these boundaries of what academia will legitimize by collaborating with activists to produce a well-researched catalogue of historic and contemporary narratives from activists is an important addition to scholarship in Detroit and the field of planning. The authors provide an instructive example of how the richness of community narratives can be assembled to showcase their significance across the landscape of Detroit and in ways that are of interest to many audiences.

– Lisa Berglund, Progressive City

A book which radical cartographers, environmentalists and community activists alike will want on their shelves. It is beautifully produced with full color photographs and maps.

– Phil Cohen, LivingMaps Network

Succeeds in re-presenting Detroit as a vital and living city with strong activist histories of ordinary people surviving and battling systemic racial injustices, inequalities and dispossession. It also provides an inspiring example of how other cities might create their own distinctive Atlases through similar methods, bringing to light peoples’ histories of struggle against injustice and exploitation and demonstrating new ways of creating vital and democratic urban centers through an ethics of care, where we practice new ways of being in the world and with each other.

– Hilary Ramsden, LivingMaps Network

Valuable to people in other places engaged in similar struggles over land, agriculture, infrastructure and governance. This book provides a chart for those interested in engaging in such a project. We need A People’s Atlas of every city, as an organizing tool and a document of struggles everywhere.

– Rich Heyman, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography

They have produced an interesting book, with an impressive pedigree and purpose that extends well beyond the primarily academic focus of most atlases. So well beyond, in fact, that many readers will take issue with calling it an atlas (a term typically defined as a book of maps or charts), as very few of its pages are devoted to maps, and many of those are used solely to designate the locations of those who contributed content to specific chapters.

– Russell S. Kirby, Cartographic Perspectives

The information contained in this book is vital in understanding the social, political, racial, and economic underpinnings that have formed the Detroit we see today. A failure to understand the phenomena laid out in A People's Atlas of Detroit leaves one with the flawed perspective of Detroit is a city that is deviant, dysfunctional, and dangerous. And that perspective must be smashed.

– Jason Jordan, Official Historian of the City of Detroit

  • 2021 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually