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Grant number: FT-249413-16

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Rachel Heiman
New School (New York, NY 10011-8871)

Retrofitting the American Dream: An Ethnography of Suburban Re-Design

Research and writing for a book-length study of the future of suburbanization in America.

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 growing literature on design, planning, and policy efforts to reimagine automobile suburbs for a more sustainable and equitable 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 longer-term project aligned with NEH’s new Common Good initiative, two months of fieldwork in Utah at an award-winning suburban community built on reclaimed mining lands with an environmentally friendly, transit-oriented design. This project sheds light on the formation of new subjectivities amid spatial, racial, class, and environmental change.

Project fields:
American Studies; Cultural Anthropology; Urban Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 8/31/2016