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The Dignity of Resistance
Women Residents' Activism in Chicago Public Housing


Part of Environment and Behavior

Sheila Radford-Hill
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  • Date Published: December 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521596862


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About the Authors
  • The Dignity of Resistance chronicles the four decade history of Chicago's Wentworth Gardens public housing residents' grassroots activism. This comprehensive case study explores why and how these African-American women creatively and effectively engaged in organizing efforts to resist increasing government disinvestment in public housing and the threat of demolition. Roberta M. Feldman and Susan Stall, utilizing a multi-disciplinary lens, explore the complexity and resourcefulness of Wentworth women's grassroots, organizing the ways in which their identities as poor African-American women and mothers both circumscribe their lives and shape their resistance. Through the inspirational voices of the activists, Feldman and Stall challenge portrayals of public housing residents as passive, alienated victims of despair. We learn instead how women residents collectively have built a cohesive, vital community, cultivated outside technical assistance, organizational and institutional supports, and have attracted funding - all to support the local facilities, services and programs necessary for the everyday needs for survival, and ultimately to save their home from demolition.

    • The only book that focuses on women residents' community based activism in public housing
    • Introduces a new, multi-disciplinary, theoretical framework to explicate women's grassroots resistance efforts
    • The book is a rich, longitudinal participant observation case study with an action research focus
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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521596862
    • length: 410 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword Sheila Radford-Hill
    Preface and acknowledgments
    Part I. Introduction:
    1. Struggle for homeplace
    Part II. Wentworth Gardens' Historic Context:
    2. US public housing policies: Wentworth Gardens' historic backdrop
    3. Memory of a better past, reality of the present: the impetus for resident activism
    Part III. Everyday Resistance in the Expanded Private Sphere:
    4. The community household: the foundation of everyday resistance
    5. The local advisory council (LAC): a site of women-centered organizing
    6. Women-centered leadership: a case study
    7. The appropriation of homeplace: organizing for the spatial resources to sustain everyday life
    Part IV. Transgressive Resistance in the Public Sphere:
    8. The White Sox Battle: protest and betrayal
    9. Linking legal action and economic development: tensions and strains
    10. Becoming resident managers: a bureaucratic quagmire
    Part V. Conclusions:
    11. Resistance in context

  • Authors

    Roberta M. Feldman, University of Illinois, Chicago
    Roberta M. Feldman is Professor of Architecture at the School of Architecture and the Co-Director of the City Design Center at the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois, Chicago.

    Susan Stall, Northeastern Illinois University
    Susan Stall is Chair of the Sociology Department and Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Northeastern Illinois University.


    Sheila Radford-Hill

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