Rachel Heiman

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New School U.

Grant number

Gr. 9337

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Heiman, Dr. Rachel, New School U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Retrofitting the American Dream: An Ethnography of Suburban Redesign'

Preliminary abstract: There is much speculation about the future of the suburban American dream as volatile economic conditions, energy concerns, and climate change make the low-density landscape of single-family homes increasingly unviable. There has been a growing literature on architecture, planning, and policy efforts to reimagine automobile suburbs for a more sustainable future. Yet there has been little ethnographic research that explores the transformation of sedimented ideals and ways of being as people’s everyday routines and familiar spaces shift amid efforts to retrofit the physical and social landscape of suburbia. I am proposing, as part of a larger multi-sited project on the generative friction of spatial, racial, class, and environmental change amid suburban re-design, three months of fieldwork in South Jordan, Utah at Daybreak, a massive master-planned community currently under development by Kennecott Land, a land development subsidiary of the global mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world. Now 11 years into an anticipated 25- to 30-year build-out on reclaimed land once used for mining activities, Daybreak has won several prestigious awards for its environmentally friendly transit-oriented design, including one for ‘Suburban Smart Growth’ from the National Association of Home Builders. Through observations, interviews, and textual analysis, this research seeks to shed light on the formation of new subjectivities and new regimes of power at the intersection of sustainable suburbanism, corporate social responsibility, and social justice concerns.