HomeThe Black Metropolis, between past and future

The Black Metropolis, between past and future

Race, urban planning and African-American culture in Chicago

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Published on Monday, October 30, 2017 by Elsa Zotian

Summary

The colloquium will celebrate the centenary of the “Great Migration” and explore the social and cultural life of Chicago South Side and West Side from the end of the Thirties, which were marked by the cultural zenith of Bronzeville neighborhood and a series of measures for the Black community inspired by the New Deal, to the present, which is characterized by numerous private and public initiatives in favor of an urban renewal. This international and multidisciplinary colloquium seeks to reevaluate the contribution of the South Side and the West Side to the definition and evolution of the African-American identity from the beginning of the XXth Century until the contemporary moment.

Announcement

The Black Metropolis, Between Past & Future: Race, Urban Planning, and African-American Culture in Chicago is a three-day, multidisciplinary colloquium in Paris that brings together sociologists, historians, urban anthropologists, and artists to reevaluate the cultural contributions of Chicago’s South and West Sides in defining an African-American identity nationally and internationally.

Argument

The title of the colloquium refers to St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton’s ground breaking study published in 1945, Black Metropolis. A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City

The colloquium will celebrate the centenary of the “Great Migration” and explore the social and cultural life of Chicago South Side and West Side from the end of the Thirties, which were marked by the cultural zenith of Bronzeville neighborhood and a series of measures for the Black community inspired by the New Deal, to the present, which is characterized by numerous private and public initiatives in favor of an urban renewal (for example, the Rebuild Foundation, The Arts Incubator, the renaissance of the South Side Art Community Center, and the future opening of the Barack Obama Presidential Center).

Since the beginning of the 20th Century and particularly after the “Great Migration”, which peaked in 1917, Chicago has been considered the “Black Metropolis” of the United States of America. Chicago’s South Side and West Side are the two emblematic African-American neighborhoods of the Midwest’s largest city. These neighborhoods are always associated with negative images of the “Black Ghetto” for example, the setting and perpetuation of urban racial segregation, precarious living conditions, especially in terms of housing and jobs, and violence resulting from an illegal economy controlled by gangs. However, if representation of the South Side and the West Side of Chicago was restricted to such depictions of the socio-economic and political difficulties of the African-American community, the portrait would not be complete. On the contrary, the “Black Metropolis” has always had a distinctly intense intellectual and artistic life. Chicago, alongside New York, has contributed more than any other American city to the rise and influence of African-American culture in the United States and its spreading to the rest of the world.

The international and multidisciplinary colloquium “The Black Metropolis, between Past and Future: Race, Urban Planning and African-American Culture in Chicago” seeks to reevaluate the contribution of the South Side and the West Side to the definition and evolution of the African-American identity from the beginning of the 20th Century until the contemporary moment.

The three-day colloquium will be organized around four main topics: housing, the socio-political world and its cultural expressions, community spaces (for example, churches, clubs, and cultural centers), and media. For each of these main topics, the purpose of the colloquium will be twofold: to assess the most recent scholarly works on the South Side and the West Side inscribed in the long tradition of the University of Chicago School of Sociology and to open the study of the African American community in Chicago to new fields of inquiry by encouraging, in a interdisciplinary mode, the dialogue between American and French scholars, doctoral students, and other researchers.

We expect that this interdisciplinary approach applied to the four topics previously mentioned (housing, the socio-political world and its expressions, community places and media) will shed new light on the following questions: To what extent is there a permanence, evolution, or gradual disappearance of the racial segregation in Chicago and in the United States in general? Does access to elite or political positions previously unattainable by African Americans, such as the Mayor of Chicago or the President of the United States, modify the situation of the African-American community in the U.S.? Why does violence appear recurrently in South Side and West Side neighborhoods? How does African-American art play into the definition and the construction of the African-American identity across time, and to what extent is this identity formed along national and local boundaries? What kind of links does African-American art maintain, implicitly or explicitly, with African culture, the culture of the Southern United States, other minorities’ cultures in the United States, mainstream American culture, and European artistic traditions? What roles have the concepts of “color line” and “double consciousness”, formulated by W. E. B. Du Bois, played in African-American artistic production in Chicago? To what kind of audience is African-American art directed? How can we understand its successes (particularly those of Blues and Jazz) beyond the African-American community?  These are some of the questions that will be addressed during the colloquium.

The purpose of this colloquium will be to participate in the ongoing reflection on the South Side and the West Side by striving to better understand how each of their dimensions (racial, spatial, socio-political, and artistic) contribute to the definition of Chicago as the “Black Metropolis” and, more broadly, to an African-American cultural identity in the United States and beyond. By taking this perspective, the colloquium would like to re-evaluate The Chicago Renaissance versus The Harlem Renaissance.

Four cultural events will take place in connection with the colloquium:

1) A photo exhibition “Black Chicago” at Les Douches La Gallerie (curator: Françoise Morin). The exhibition will include photographs by Tom Arndt, Marvin Newman, Vivian Maier, Ray K Metzker, Wayne Miller, and Carlos Javier Ortiz.  Exhibition dates: 28 October – 13 January 2018. This exhibition will be part of the Paris Photo International Fair (9 November – 12 November 2017).

2) An exhibition entitled “Chicago, the Black Metropolis,” at the University of Paris Diderot Library, featuring books and pictures of the South Side and the West Side of Chicago (curated by Henri Peretz). Exhibition dates: 6 November-30 November 2017.

3) The screening of two documentaries on Thursday 16 November at 8:00 pm at the University of Chicago Center in Paris on Black Chicago: Maxwell Street by Marvin Newman and Yasuhiro Ishimoto and Shadowgram by Augusto Cotento. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Henri Peretz (sociologist), Giancarlo Grande (producer of Shadowgram), and Ali Moussa Iye (TBD) (UNESCO).

4) A special performance, From Black Metropolis to Yellow City at the Fondation des États-Unis on Friday, November 17 at 7:30 pm by Mike Reed (drummer and composer) and Olivier Benoit (guitarist, head of the Orchestre National de Jazz)

Thanks to the generous support of United Airlines, the France Chicago Center, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, and The University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, a group of 15 high-school student musicians from Chicago’s South and West Sides will be able to attend this colloquium. The students are current members of Howard Sandifer’s After School Matters, Jazz ensemble. While in Paris, these students will meet with their high-school counterparts in France, engage with them through discussions and social activities, learn to know one of the world’s great cities, perform in various settings, and participate in a manifestation of scholarship on the history and culture of the city that helped shape their identity.

The Business of Music is an After School Matters program designed and implemented by the Chicago West Community Music Center. The program, taught by Howard and Darlene Sandifer, is a longstanding program in the Garfield Park community that allows teens to develop their musical talents and learn about the “business of music.” Specifically, teens develop and hone their skills playing musical instruments, which include guitar, bass, drums, harp, and a variety of woodwinds. Additionally, teens receive in-depth vocal training, assistance with professional performance techniques, and critical skills such as teamwork, communications, conflict resolution, and problem solving. The program concludes with a professional, culminating event and student-produced product. Throughout the program, participants are connected to post-secondary opportunities including the Berklee School of Music, practicing musicians, industry executives, and other educational and professional institutions. The Business of Music is regularly sought out to perform at special events throughout the City of Chicago.

Inscription obligatoire : Arnaud Coulombel, acoulomb@uchicago.edu

Program

Wednesday, 15 November

Sciences Po Paris, 13 rue de l’Université, Amphithéâtre Jean Moulin 75007

  • 7:15 pm Keynote Address, Michael Dawson (University of Chicago): “The Frustrated Quest for Self-Determination in Chicago Black Politics”

Thursday, 16 November

Morning Session

9:00 am - 12:30 pm

Université Paris Diderot, 15 rue Hélène Brion, Amphithéâtre Buffon 75013

9:15 am: Welcome remarks

Introduction: Henri Peretz (Yale University) and Forrest Stuart (University of Chicago)

  • Howard Becker (independent researcher/ Alumnus of the University of Chicago): “Black Metropolis and me”

Mapping the Black Metropolis

Chair: François Brunet (Université Paris Diderot)

  • 10:00 - 10:30 am:  James Grossman (University of Chicago): “What did Chicago represent in the imagination of the Black Southerners?”
  • 10:30 - 11:00 am: Mitchell Duneier (Princeton University): “Chicago and the “Ghetto”, cultural history of a word and an idea”
  • 11:00 - 11:30 am: Richard Powell (Duke University): “Archibald Motley and Black Chicago”
  • 11:30 - 12:00 pm: Andrew Diamond (Université Paris-Sorbonne): “Advancing the Race and Getting Ahead: Religion, Policy, Real Estate, Insurance, and the Blues in the Interwar Black Metropolis”

12:00 - 12:30 pm: Q&A

Afternoon session

2:30 pm – 5:45 pm

Université Paris Diderot, 15 rue Hélène Brion, Amphithéâtre Buffon 75013

Housing

Chair: Forrest Stuart (University of Chicago)

  • 2:30 - 3:00 pm Bradford Hunt (Newberry Library): “Chicago Public Housing: Re-shaping the Black Metropolis, Then and Now”
  • 3:00 - 3:30 pm Eliane de Larminat (Université Paris Diderot): “Photographs of “Public housing monstrosities” in the early Gautreaux years (1966-1969), or the visual politics of high-rise landscape photography”

3:30 – 3:45 pm Q&A

Coffee Break

  • 4:00 - 4:30 pm: Adrienne Brown (TBC) (University of Chicago): “Richard Wright’s Chicago”
  • 4:30 - 5:00 pm Florence Nussbaum (Université Paris Diderot): “Invisible Displacement: Abandoned Properties and Real Estate Speculation in the Black Metropolis”

5:00 - 5:15 pm Q&A

8:00 -10:00 pm The University of Chicago Center in Paris, 6 rue Thomas Mann 75013.

Screening of two documentaries on Black Chicago: Maxwell Street by Marvin Newman and Yasuhiro Ishimoto and Shadowgram by Augusto Cotento. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Henri Peretz (sociologist), Giancarlo Grande (producer of Shadowgram), AIi Moussa Lye (Unesco; TBC).

Friday, 17 November

Morning Session

9:00 am - 12:30 pm

Fondation des États-Unis, 15 Boulevard Jourdan 75014

9:00 – 9:30 am Welcome remarks

The socio-political world of the South Side and the West Side and its cultural expressions

Chair: Michael Dawson (University of Chicago)

  • 9:30 - 10:00 am Jean-Michel Chapoulie (Université Panthéon Sorbonne): “Robert Park and the founding of empirical sociology (of race relations)”
  • 10:00 - 10:30 am Davarian Baldwin (Trinity College, Hartford): “Chicago could be the Vienna of American Fascism”: The Political Culture of Black Anti-Fascism on the South Side”
  • 10:30 - 11:00 am Adam Green (TBC) (University of Chicago): “Selling the race. Culture and Community in Black Chicago (1940-1955)”

Coffee Break

  • 11:15 - 11:45 am Clément Petitjean (Université Paris Sorbonne): “”This is not what the community is saying”: Organizing and Representing Community in the South Side”
  • 11:45 - 12:15 pm Ethan Michaeli (Journalist): “From the World’s Fair to the World Stage: How the Chicago Defender Became the Spokesperson for Black America and Made Chicago the Center of the Resistance in the Early 20th Century”

12:15 - 12:45 pm Q&A

Afternoon session

|2:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Fondation des États-Unis, 15 Boulevard Jourdan 75014

Community Places

Chair: Paul Schor (Université Paris Diderot)

  • 2:30 - 3:00 pm Alexandre Pierrepont (Université Paris Diderot): “The Trans-community of the AACM: Music and Communities building in the South Side and in the World”
  • 3:00 - 3:30 pm Daniel Shulman (Independent Scholar, Chicago): “The Julius Rosenwald Fund and the Black community in Chicago”

Chicago In and Chicago Out

Chair: Paul Schor (Université Paris Diderot)

  • 3:45 - 4:15 pm Masequa Myers (SSCAC): “The role South Side Community Art Center and The Great Migration Played in Connecting and Developing a Creative and Artistic Core: Surviving Relocation, Social Evolution and a Search for Self-Identity”
  • 4:15 - 4:45 pm Rebecca Zorach (Northwestern University): “On the internationalism of Chicago’s Black Arts Movement”
  • 4:45 - 5:15 pm Sarah Leboime (Université Paris Sorbonne): “The Diaspora of Chicago’s AfriCOBRA”

5:15 - 5:45 pm Q&A

7:30 pm From Black Metropolis to Yellow City: Special performance by Mike Reed (drummer and composer) and Olivier Benoit (Orchestre National de Jazz)

Saturday 18 November

Morning Session

9:30 am - 12:00 pm

The University of Chicago Center in Paris, 6 rue Thomas Mann 75013

9:30 - 10:00 am Welcome remarks

Media

Chair: Rebecca Zorach (Northwestern University)

  • 10:00 – 10:30 am Forrest Stuart (University of Chicago): “Poverty, culture and social media in the South Side”
  • 10:30 – 11:00 am Cathy Cohen (TBC) (University of Chicago): “Social Media and political action: the Black Youth Project”
  • 11:30 - 12:00 pm Henri Peretz (Yale University): “Chicago in Gordon Park’s career and work”
  • 12:00 – 12:30 pm Amy Mooney (Columbia College, Chicago): “Photos of Style and Dignity: African American Photographers and the Delivery of Black Modern Subjectivity”

12:30 - 12:45 pm Q&A

Afternoon Session

2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

The University of Chicago Center in Paris, 6 rue Thomas Mann 75013

Dialogues on the Black Metropolis

2:00 - 2:30 pm Dialogue 1: Painting, Music and Politics: Archibald Motley

  • Mike Reed (Musician and composer) and Davarian Baldwin (Historian, Trinity College, Hartford); moderator: Alexandre Pierrepont

2:30 - 3:00 pm Dialogue 2: Photographs, Embedment and Sociology: Screening of the documentary We All We Got (Carlos Javier Ortiz, 2014, 9 mn)

Carlos Javier Ortiz (Visual artist) and Henri Peretz (Sociologist, Senior Fellow at Yale University)

3:00 - 4:00 pm Dialogue 3: Education in the West Side and the South Side (1) Screening of the documentary ’63 Boycott (Gordon Quinn, 2017, 34 mn)

  • Gordon Quinn (Director), Tracye Matthews (Co-producer), Rachel Dickson (Co-producer); moderator: Forrest Stuart

4:00 – 4:30 pm Dialogue 4: Education in the West Side and the South Side (2)

  • Mary Ellen Caron (CEO, After School Matters), Howard Sandifer (Chicago West Community Music Center); moderator: Forrest Stuart

Closing remarks by Theaster Gates (University of Chicago): “The Rebuild Foundation and its role in the South Side and beyond”

Locations

Sciences Po Paris, Université Denis Diderot, Fondation des États-Unis, Université de Chicago Centre à Paris.

Scientific Committee

  • Henri Peretz (Senior Fellow at Yale University),
  • Michael Dawson (University of Chicago),
  • Forrest Stuart (University of Chicago),
  • Rebecca Zorach (Northwestern University),
  • François Brunet (Université Denis Diderot),
  • Andrew Diamond (Université Paris Sorbonne),
  • and Alexandre Pierrepont (Université Paris Denis Diderot)

Organizing Committee

  • Henri Peretz (Senior Fellow at Yale University)
  • Michael Dawson (University of Chicago)
  • Forrest Stuart (University of Chicago)
  • Alexandre Pierrepont (Université Paris Diderot – The Bridge)
  • and Arnaud Coulombel (University of Chicago Center in Paris)

Partners and Sponsors

This colloquium is organized by The University of Chicago in partnership with Université Paris Diderot, Université Paris Sorbonne, the Fondation des États-Unis and Sciences Po Paris.

Additionally, it is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The United States Embassy in France, the Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, the France Chicago Center, the Commission Fulbright franco-américaine, and the Comité Paris Chicago.

The colloquium is part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation Art, which explores Chicago’s art and design legacy. Additional support comes from presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Places

  • Amphithéâtre Jean Moulin | Amphithéâtre Buffon | Salle de conférence - Sciences Po Paris, 13 rue de l’Université | Université Paris Diderot, 15 rue Hélène Brion | The University of Chicago Center 6 rue Thomas Mann | Fondation des États-Unis, 15 Boulevard Jourdan
    Paris, France (75007 | 75013 | 75014)

Date(s)

  • Wednesday, November 15, 2017
  • Saturday, November 18, 2017
  • Thursday, November 16, 2017
  • Friday, November 17, 2017

Keywords

  • Chicago, culture afro-américaine

Contact(s)

  • Arnaud Coulombel
    courriel : acoulomb [at] uchicago [dot] edu

Information source

  • Arnaud Coulombel
    courriel : acoulomb [at] uchicago [dot] edu

To cite this announcement

« The Black Metropolis, between past and future », Colloquium, Calenda, Published on Monday, October 30, 2017, http://calenda.org/419705