Who Rules the Street?

Whether in a big city or a small town, the street is a crucial public space that enables and shapes community life. But not everyone agrees what kind of place it is or who should control it. Throughout history and around the globe, the street has always been a contested terrain, subject to competing definitions and uses. Is it a thoroughfare or a place to hang out? A shopper’s delight or a sinner’s paradise? A series of buildings or somebody’s turf? This interdisciplinary course will explore the many concepts, cultures, and conflicts of the street from the perspectives of anthropology,history, and related fields in the humanities and social sciences. Students will learn how different disciplines approach similar questions about public spaces, deepen their knowledge of effective research and communication methods for the study of societies past and present, and improve their abilities to collaborate across liberal arts fields on the examination of a long-standing problem of street life (homelessness, property rights, prostitution, riots, protests, road maintenance, gang violence, substandard housing, informal economy, etc.) in a specific cultural and historical context.