July 1, 2016

City Steward: Shebani Rao

Research Cluster | Place-Makingdcs.headshots.shebani

Department | Sociology 

Origin City | Reston, VA

Research Key Words | art, community, gentrification, place-making


Research Statement |

In recent years, multiple narratives have emerged about Detroit’s (re)emergence as a hub for art and creativity.  Art initiatives describe the potential for art to build a sense of community, and contribute to place-making efforts; simultaneously, media accounts and academic work draw links between art and gentrification and the potentially negative outcomes resulting from this relationship. Through my research project, I seek to interview art advocates, foundations, and community members to interrogate this proposed connection between art and community development,  understand why art has come to be viewed as a public good, and explore which communities and groups are truly benefiting from this trend.

Steward Statement |

I am so excited to have this opportunity to learn from a community of scholars and engage in meaningful, collaborative research that has relevance beyond my specific field.  I strongly believe in the potential for initiatives like Detroit City Study to break down the conventional barriers between academics and the wider world in which we work, which is a boundary I hope to transcend in my own academic career as a scholar-activist. As a scholar of race and urban sociology, I am deeply interested in Detroit’s history and evolution. I hope this project is able to create a space in which researchers and community members can interact and learn from one another, as well as contribute thoughtful, useful research to the city during this period of rapid – though often uneven – change.