Professor: Hannah Appel, Anthropology

Project Description: The Debt Collective is a team of debtors, organizers, technologists, media, and legal experts that is building a platform to allow members — whether they are low-wage workers, mortgage holding families, people caught up in the court and human caging system or struggling former college students — to renegotiate, resist, and refuse unfair debts. Leveraging the collective power of mass indebtedness, we offer debtors a shared platform for organization, advocacy, and direct action. We are building debtors unions. Alone, our debts are a burden; together, they make us powerful.

Black, Brown, and Powerful

50 years after the Chicano Blowouts, still waiting for justice and the need to reject more police in our schools

Fifty years ago, on March 1st, 1968, several hundred Mexican American and Chicana/o students at Wilson High School initiated an impromptu walkout protest in response to the cancelation of a school play by their principal.

Video of INDIVISIBLE and the Resistance

Printable .pdf flyer INDIVISIBLE and the Resistance took place at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Speakers: Billy Fleming, Indivisible Guide Co-Author Moderated by: Ananya Roy, Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare, and Geography; Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin In conversation with: Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, Assistant Director, UCLA Asian American […]

2018 Activists-in-Residence Welcomed at Reception

The Institute on Inequality and Democracy (II&D) at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center welcomed Manuel Criollo and Yvonne Yen Liu as the 2018 UCLA Activist-in-Residence Fellows during a reception held Jan. 11, 2018, at the UCLA Luskin Commons.

INDIVISIBLE and the Resistance

Activist-in-Residence Program

With a shared commitment to advance democracy through research and alliances with civil rights organizations and progressive social movements, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin have partnered to offer UCLA’s Activist-in-Residence Program during the 2018 Winter and Spring Quarters.

Land, Livelihoods and Displacement in Indonesia

We are organizing a workshop,which promises to open up an innovative research agenda on land transformation, evictions and livelihoods extending across urban and rural areas. In the spirit of the IID’s call for proposals, we plan to invite to this event four activists who have been challenging evictions and developing alternatives in both rural and urban areas. The original motivation for this workshop is the explosion of land transformations in recent years, across rural and urban Asia. In urban areas, spectacular top-end real estate developments and infrastructure projects are displacing the low-income urban majority who reside in informal settlements, which are also key spaces for pursuing the informal livelihood strategies they often depend on. In rural areas, peasant agriculture is being displaced by special economic zones, peri-urban real estate and infrastructure developments, and plantations set aside for cash crops—in particular what have become known as ‘land grabs’: inter-state agreements to set land aside in one country for export oriented food and green energy production to the other country. In both contexts, these changes are triggering displacementof current residents, challenging their livelihood possibilities. The large-scale nature of these transformations, as well as the protests they have triggered across Asia, have made questions of land, livelihoods and displacement a priority for both academic research, development policyand activism. Indonesia, Asia’s third largest country, has become something of a cause célèbre for these issues, because of the dramatic nature of transformations in contexts ranging from rural Kalimantan’s palm oil plantations to downtown Jakarta. In Jakarta, the recent past has seen an escalation of evictions under the current governor:tens of thousands of residents from informal settlements had to watch the police and military, bulldozers, heavy machinery, and construction crews forcefully remove the homes that they had built with sweat equity.

To date there has been very little intellectual exchange between scholars working in rural and urban areas as well as between scholars and activists–not only in Indonesia, but also more generally across the global South. This workshop will convene an interdisciplinary group of leading international scholars and activists from Indonesia to transcend these divides and share experiences and insights. The workshop will be organized by Professors Helga Leitner and Eric Sheppard of UCLA’s Geography Department, who are currently undertaking collaborative research into land transformations in Indonesia, also interacting with Indonesian activists. We have one activist in residence, Dian Irawaty, currently a doctoral student at UCLA, who has been involved in the past in two of the activist organizations discussed below: UPC and RUJAK. She will be a great asset for facilitating the interaction between activists and scholars also bringing her own experience as an activist to the table.

To promote active interchange among participants this will be organized as a dialogic workshop,which intersperses research presentations with small group discussions that culminate in plenary sessions. These will be organized in such a way as to ensure that activists’ voice and experience are central to the discussions; academics and activists will thus be in a position to learn from one another. Beyond the co-production of activist/academic knowledge during the workshop, our intention is to use this as the foundation for a collaborative research program in Indonesia.

By: Helga Leitner and Eric Sheppard, UCLA Geography

The Paris Housing Crisis and the Campaign for Affordable Housing, 1894-1940

The project will begin by exploring the origins of the concept of both private and state-sponsored affordable housing in the late nineteenth-century, which was shaped by the Haussmannization’s failure to address the need for housing for the poor. It will examine early legislation passed in 1894 to address these issues and trace the impact of the war, which prompted the government to allow a moratorium on the payment of all rents in 1914 and rent control provisions after 1918. These initiatives resulted in alack of private investment in housing,largely as a result of the abolition of rents during the First World War,which prompted the huge public outlays for rebuilding and the Loucheur Law itself in the 1920s and 1930s. I will also explore the aesthetic and architectural dimensions to the vast rebuilding scheme and its sensitivity to hygienic and environmental considerations,from the introduction of the idea of “city-gardens,” pagodas, terraces, and bow windows,to maximize exposure to sunlight and to encourage the circulation of fresh air,before examining the consequences of the initiative for the environment and for the city’s landscape on the eve of the Second World War.The project will examine individual architectural designs by Rey, Sauvage, Provensal and others for collective social housing projects and the debates among architects themselves about the importance of sunlight, air circulation, ornamentation, public services, as well as about the goals of architecture itself.

It is my hope that this case study will contribute to a broader understanding of urban housing crises historically and worldwide. I also hope that the project’s interdisciplinary scope will interest historians of architecture, art,urban design, technology, and the environment more generally as well as sociologists and policy makers, who confront the issue of affordable and environmentally sustainable social housing every day. As this case and recent debates about the housing crisis in Paris,New York and other cities suggest, the problem of housing shortages and what some have called the “eternal housing crisis” merits serious historical inquiry in order to illuminate how it has been handled in different parts of the globe at different moments in time in order to consider the ways in which a knowledge of the past can shape debates and policy decisions in the present.

By: Caroline Ford, UCLA History

Our Hoods, Our Stories: Documenting Displacement in Boyle Heights and Chinatown

The graduate student working group connected with community groups as UCLA students and worked on building connections for a project-based course that allows a longer-term commitment from UCLA to support anti-gentrification and anti-displacement work.

  • They have reached out to organizations like Union de Vecinos, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development.
  • Our Hoods, Our Stories Working Group attended community town hall meetings to learn what issues community members are facing.
  • They created a list of readings and a syllabus for a class on gentrification; its effects on community members and local economies; and policies that can either mitigate or exacerbate conditions of gentrification.
  • Their intention is for this to begin as a student-led and student-taught course, but will look for a faculty sponsor for the class to continue to inspire further research and action in the field of displacement.
  • Students hosted Gente Sí, Gentrify No: Resisting Displacement in Boyle Heights with the organizations they have connected with
    • Activists, residents, and community members came together to discuss the struggle against gentrification and displacement in Boyle Heights. Boyle Heights is at the epicenter of a spatially contested struggle for shelter in the midst of Los Angeles’ crisis of housing affordability. This renewed interest in the neighborhood comes after decades of disinvestment, racial discrimination, and substandard employment opportunities for its long-term residents. As a historic entry point for Mexican immigrants into the country, gentrification in Boyle Heights has not only taken a toll on the neighborhood’s most vulnerable populations, but it has eroded the vital social and cultural institutions of self-determination. But the threat of displacement has also inspired a rigorous and thriving social movement. In a moderated discussion, panelists explored the realities of gentrification and the organizing that has emerged as a response to provide context to the debate about gentrification in the neighborhood, and similar debates taking place across Los Angeles.

By: Eve Bachrach, Gina Charusombat, Amman Desai, Julia Heidelman, Lawrence Lan, Jacklyn Oh, Xochitl Ortiz, Carolyn Vera, and Estefania Zavala Urban Planning and Asian American Studies.


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