Engineered Conflict with Professor David Stovall (CRRE Seminar)

Tuesday 28 June 2022 (16:00-17:30)

Dr Karl Kitching,

Engineered Conflict:  School Closings, Public Housing, Law Enforcement and the Future of Black Life 

Professor David Stovall, University of Illinois, Chicago

Professor Stovall’s presentation interrogates white supremacy/racism in the form of state-sanctioned structural violence in Chicago. Through the creation of obstruction and failure at the government/administrative level, the city’s recent and historical manoeuvres in education, housing and law enforcement operate as material and ideological sites for continued containment and marginalisation of large groupings of Black residents on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Because school closings, destruction of public housing and local law enforcement are primarily investigated as singular entities, their grouping under the auspices of a “engineered” or planned instability provides a framework to examine the educational, spatial, and legal conditions of Black residents of Chicago in specific communities. Explicit attention is paid to the spatial narratives of school closures, the destruction of public housing and homicides in geographic police districts.

Building from the aforementioned relationship between the three entities, the presentation explains the concept of “engineering” as creating space to “improve” function. Complicating the process of “improvement” as long-term state sanctioned violence, the report speaks to efforts by city government to spatially mark certain Black communities for either gentrification or extreme isolation and containment. School closures are positioned in this document as connected to the process of “slow violence” where residents of a neighbourhood experience a gradual erasure, reminiscent of a crumbling building that slowly erodes until the edifice is reduced to rubble. Because school closings are commonly thought of as the shuttering of a physical building, the presentation expounds on the idea that school closing are intimately connected through a nexus of lack of affordable housing and law enforcement strategies.


Professor David Stovall's scholarship investigates Critical Race Theory, the interrelationship of housing and education, and the intersection of race, place and school. In the attempt to bring theory to action, he works with community organisations and schools to address issues of equity, justice and abolishing the school/prison nexus. His work led him to become a member of the design team for the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice (SOJO), which opened in the Autumn of 2005.

Furthering his work with communities, students and teachers, his work manifests itself in his involvement with the Peoples Education Movement, a collection of classroom teachers, community members, students and university professors in Chicago, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area who engage in collaborative community projects centered in creating relevant curriculum. In addition to his duties and responsibilities as a professor at UIC, he also served as a volunteer social studies teacher at the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice from 2005-2018.

This seminar is open to all.

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