Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew School U.
Grant numberGr. 9337
Approve DateOctober 5, 2016
Project TitleHeiman, Dr. Rachel, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Retrofitting the American Dream: An Ethnography of Suburban Redesign'
RACHEL HEIMAN, New School University, New York, New York, received a grant in October 2016 to aid research on “Retrofitting the American Dream: An Ethnography of Suburban Redesign.” Speculation about the future of the suburban American dream has intensified as economic conditions, energy concerns, and climate change make the low-density landscape of single-family homes increasingly unviable. There has been growing literature on architecture, planning, and policy efforts to reimagine automobile suburbs for a more sustainable future through introducing urban densities, green infrastructure, transit-oriented development to suburban areas accustomed to the converse. Yet there has been little ethnographic research that sheds light on incremental processes of transforming spatial habits, sedimented ideals, and aesthetic conventions. This project is an ethnographic exploration of an unlikely site and set of conditions for sustainable suburban design: a massive master-planned community in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley spearheaded by a global mining conglomerate on remediated land. Through observations, interviews, and textual analysis, this research investigates the generative friction accompanying suburban redesign, as transnational corporations, architects, builders, residents, planners, and politicians negotiate aspirations for—and anxieties about—the material, social, and environmental future of the American suburb. This study seeks to theorize new subjectivities and regimes of governance at the intersection of sustainable urbanism, devolved governance, corporate social responsibility, and social justice concerns.