Elena Judith Peeples

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia Teachers College

Grant number

Gr. 10714

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Peeples, Elena (Columbia Teachers College) "Trenton Makes: Urban Planning and the Production of Expertise"

Discussion of traffic fatalities in Trenton, NJ occurs in the register of urban planning, which oscillates between characterizing the inadequacy of present conditions and visioning for a better, safer future. Discussions become interventions as stakeholders make alterations to the cityscape. This dissertation seeks to understand how professional and quotidian knowledge about traffic infrastructure, mediated and manifested through these discussions and interventions, becomes planning expertise. The question of expertise in urban planning practice sits in the inherent tension between expectations of scientific certainty and financial efficiency on the one hand, and a call for resident inclusion through participatory planning activities on the other. Participatory planning in Trenton, NJ involves complex relations including government officials, nonprofit personnel and other professionals as well as city residents who are increasingly Latinx immigrants. Therefore, this project asks: how are material, spatial, and discursive resources used to variously empower or disempower professional and quotidian ways of knowing? Through 12 months of ethnographic engagement this project considers how a variety of stakeholders, especially Latinx immigrants, participate in planning initiatives and community organizing efforts and how the knowledge they produce for and through these efforts is legitimated, transformed, contested, and reinscribed as they attempt to improve traffic safety.