Infrastructures of the Marvelous: Public Housing Led Social Transformation in Charlottesville

Slaats, Matthew, Constructed Environment - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Moomaw, Suzanne, AR-Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Virginia

Public housing, in the context of the United States, is a contested geography. It places those that call it home in direct relation to myths of poverty, policies of disinvestment, and systems that bureaucratize their lives. In doing so it erases the agency and meaning that public housing residents bring to not only their communities but also their cities. This commitment to erasure has made it easy to demolish the physical and social infrastructures of these communities because they are unseen, misunderstood, and undervalued. While communities around the US are being removed, Charlottesville, VA is unique in that public housing is being rebuilt and redeveloped. This is due to the ongoing advocacy and organizing of public housing residents. This research project explores the physical, social, and affective infrastructures that public housing residents have developed to make this a reality. It specifically witnesses how public housing residents build power, push the boundaries of policies, demand their rights, and care for their communities. Using a participatory action research methodology, the project worked with public housing residents for over 2 years by collecting oral histories to document a tradition of social transformation that led to this paradigm.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Public Housing, Social Transformation, Infrastructure, Social Movements
Issued Date: