A book for everyone who seeks to make their own city more just.


Revealing the untold stories of fifty years of community activism at the controversial Seward Park Urban Renewal Area on New York’s Lower East Side, Contested City sheds light on the importance of collaborative creative public projects in this complex place. A unique and humane book that bridges art, design, activism, and urban history.

This underdeveloped piece of downtown Manhattan has long confounded New Yorkers. With scholarly rigor and deep respect for community, Dr. Bendiner-Viani uncovers its secrets at last. Her research has resonance for controversial ‘urban renewal’ projects everywhere.
— Ada Calhoun, author St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street
Bendiner-Viani has written an exemplary, must read study of long-term neighborhood activism and engaged teaching. Her rigorous, absorbing prose gives witness to and unpacks what it means to organize for people’s place-making and the ongoing fight against rapacious urban bullying and paranoid racial politics.
— Jack Tchen, Inaugural Clement Price Chair of Public History and Humanities, Rutgers-Newark
Contested City is a welcome sounding board for artists, designers, planners, educators, and others seeking to alter landscapes of power everywhere. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani critically orients readers to how stories, conflicts, and cities shape one another, while demonstrating how art and design can supplement self-government ‘without claiming centrality,’ and how making things that ‘don’t tell you what to think’ can be helpful for all of us.
— Damon Rich, urban designer, 2017 MacArthur Fellow
Displacement is one of the most critical issues of our time. Bendiner-Viani brings her expertise in environmental psychology and urban history to this highly accessible and provocative book that explores art, community, and student engagement. Focused on NYC, the issues and practices described in this book are widely applicable in cities across the globe.
— Yolanda Chávez Leyva, Director of the Institute of Oral History & Borderlands Public History Lab, University of Texas at El Paso

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Out everywhere January 3, 2019

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