Monday, March 31, 2014

Delays and Karl Polanyi
I'm just getting back to posting. Several years ago, I began a translation of an article by a famous social scientist named Karl Polanyi. He wrote the article in German in 1922, just a couple years after he had moved from Budapest to Vienna. Vienna as a city greatly inspired him. There are many reasons why the article was never translated into English, one of which is that the article is very confusing and the topic is rather unusual, "Socialist Accounting." His most famous work -- The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time -- is incredibly clear and has many followers, including Nobel Laureate in economics and former Chief Economist at the World Bank Joseph Stiglitz.

Back in January, I decided finally to finish the translation, which ended up being 40+ pages long. Last week, I sent it, along with a preface explaining the article, to an academic journal. Now I'll wait 4-12 months for the academic journal to make a decision about whether to publish the translation and preface. They will send it out to scholars at other universities, who will evaluate the texts. Eventually, I will get to read their anonymous evaluations of texts, as well as the journal editors' judgement. If they (hopefully) decide to publish the text, then I will make changes based on the scholars' criticisms and comments and based on the journal editors' suggestions. This rigorous peer review is one of the great benefits of publishing in an academic journal. Our knowledge is so much improved through this process.

Sociologists use Karl Polanyi's work all the time to talk about globalization and changes in the global economy since the 1970s. For example, University of Michigan sociology professor Margaret Somers (left) and University of California - Davis sociology professor Fred Block (right) use Polanyi extensively. These worldwide changes since the 1970s have greatly reshaped Washington, DC, and many other places. So, the 1922 article speaks to both sociologists and to those who study cities like DC.

Now, I am just getting back in posting mode.

P.S. Block and Somers' new book, The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi's Critique, was officially published today! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

May 18, 2014: DC Historical Studies Conference submission deadline

Submit online! -

Washington, D.C., November 20-23, 2014
Hosted by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.,
Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square
Submission Deadline: May 18, 2014

Making New Washingtons: Historical Consciousness in a Transforming City

You are invited to take part in the 41st Annual Conference on D.C. Historical Studies.

Proposals are now being reviewed for individual papers, organized panels, new films, walking tours, author talks on new books, and practical workshops on research or material preservation. All topics related to the history of metropolitan Washington, D.C., including nearby Maryland and Virginia, as well as the federal government, are welcome. Don’t miss this opportunity to reach the conference audience of scholars, students, and interested members of the public eager for this lively consideration of all things D.C.

The theme for the 41st Annual Conference is “Making New Washingtons: Historical Consciousness in a Transforming City.” At this time of great change and new development, historians are invited to consider the present in the context of earlier periods of ferment and dramatic change, including, but not limited to, regrouping after the burning of Washington 200 years ago, the “New Washington” era of Reconstruction following the Civil War, the Great Migration following World War I, and the waves of immigration in the second half of the 20th century. Presentations that compare D.C. to other urban centers are especially relevant and encouraged.

The conference theme is not meant to be exclusive. Submissions based on all new research on D.C. history topics are welcome. Past presentations have considered:

• art
• archaeology
• architecture
• biography
• D.C. governance
• demography
• education and schools
• ethnicity and race relations
• foodways
• geography
• housing
• labor relations
• law
• military
• music
• neighborhoods
• oral history techniques
• religion
• reviews of archival collections.

Conference panels are moderated and last one hour and 15 minutes. Typically, three speakers each take 20 minutes to present their papers, followed by 10-15 minutes of discussion with audience participation. Individuals are encouraged, though not required, to organize panels and supply moderators.

The conference opens with the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Lecture and the all-conference reception, honoring the memory of this pioneering scholar of African American history. This year’s speaker will be announced at a later date.

You are also invited to take part in the Friday lunch hour History Network, a forum where history-related organizations and vendors display materials explaining their activities and services.

For a flavor of past conferences, see the following programs from previous years; click:

The deadline for submissions is May 18, 2014. Submissions should be submitted online at:

PLEASE NOTE: Participants planning to use a PowerPoint slide show or other audio or video complement will be required either to submit their presentation two weeks in advance (preferred) OR bring their presentation on a thumb drive for loading in advance of their session. More information will be provided at a later date. Projectors and computers will be supplied.

Individual Paper
Submit a 200-word abstract of your paper, including your professional title and institutional affiliation (if applicable), contact information (email), and audio-visual/IT equipment needs.
Submit a brief description of the session with role of each panelist, professional titles and institutional affiliations (if applicable), a 200-word abstract for each paper presenter, contact information for the panel organizer/primary contact, and audio-visual/IT equipment needs.

Submit a brief description of your film including topic, running time, ages of audiences for which it is suitable, whether it is a finished piece or work in progress, and whether you would like additional time for audience feedback and discussion.

Walking Tour
Submit a description of your tour’s topic, location, length (running time and distance), start and stop points, ages of audiences, and the guide’s professional title, institutional affiliation, other relevant background as appropriate, and contact information.

Author Talk
Submit contact information and a description of your published book including publication date and indicate whether you are able to sell or are interested in selling books on site. Authors selling books are asked to supply a volunteer to handle transactions without assistance of conference staff.

Practical Workshop
Submit a description of your workshop including all IT/audio-visual requirements as well as requirements for tables or other display areas and contact information.

History Network Participation
The History Network marketplace of ideas takes place on Friday, November 21st. In addition to contact information, please indicate whether you need an entire six-foot display table, or can share with another presenter.

The 41st Annual Conference on D.C. Historical Studies is co-sponsored by the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of D.C., the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, Friends of Washingtoniana Division, George Washington University, H-DC, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and the Washingtoniana Division of the D.C. Public Library.

Questions, email Matthew Gilmore at, or call (202) 746-6675

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gentrification in DC slides

Here are the slides from my presentation on the AU Confronting Gentrification panel. At the end of the slides, you will see a list of suggested readings with many links to freely available versions of them. The video is here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

AU Discussion of Gentrification in DC

Great "Confronting Gentrification" panel at American University. Here is my discussion of gentrification in DC: 

I would like to highlight the presentation by Parisa Norouzi of Empower DC (sitting next to Potomac Gardens resident council president Aquarius Vann-Ghasri, in the gray hat):
Parisa provided a much more developed definition of gentrification than I do:
a decades-long process that begins with absentee owners and profiteers colluding with government to divest areas through racist and classist lending policies, to redline, to prevent people from having access to capital unless and until a higher-income group of people is interested in that location; and then giving our tax money and our land to those people to facilitate the enriching of the rich at the expense of everybody else. 
I defined gentrification as its result, rather than how that result comes about: "The replacement of lower-income residents and businesses with higher-income residents and businesses." It seems better to explain the process like Parisa did, rather than just state the result like I did. Parisa went on to advocate "community economic development" -- with cooperatives -- as a better model than gentrification.

I greatly appreciated hearing all the speakers and the productive discussion with activists and AU students afterwards. Here are some texts brought up during the discussion:
  •Fullilove, Mindy. 2004. Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About it. One World Books.
  •Logan, John R. and Harvey L. Molotch. 1987. Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place. UC Press.
  •Marcuse, Peter. 1985. “Gentrification, abandonment and displacement: connections, causes and policy responses,” Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law 28: 195-240.
  •Sassen, Saskia. 2005. “The Global City: Introducing a New Concept,” Brown Journal of World Affairs 11(2): 27-43.
  •Shaw, Kate and Libby Porter, eds. 2009. Whose Urban Renaissance? An International Comparison of Urban Regeneration Policies. Routledge.
  •Steinberg, Stephen. 2009. “The Myth of Concentrated Poverty.” 

Do you agree with the definitions of gentrification brought up during the talks? 
Or do you have a different definition of gentrification? 

P.S. You can see the slides from my presentation here