University of Rochester

From New York to Rochester: Strong Neighbors Make Strong Cities

March 25, 2002

An urban anthropologist who has seen ethnic diversity save cities will be the guest speaker at the Department of Anthropology's annual conference on community issues Friday, April 5, at the University of Rochester.

A presentation by Roger Sanjek, a prolific author on the subject of community activism and professor of anthropology at Queens College of the City University of New York, will cap a day of examining national and local concerns about communities. This fourth annual anthropology conference promotes students' original research and seeks to create partnerships within Rochester. The event is free and open to the public.

Local community organizers and leaders will contribute to a roundtable discussion from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by the 4:30 p.m. address by Sanjek. He will speak on "A World City? New York Before and After 9/11/01."

Sanjek is a believer in the power of neighborhoods to sustain cities. In his award-winning 1998 book, The Future of Us All: Race and Neighborhood Politics in New York City, Sanjek argues that nurturing neighborhood associations is more important to a city's future than giving tax and real estate breaks to developers and companies that threaten to leave the city.

The morning of student presentations on topics from the Vietnam War to patriotism after Sept. 11 will blend into the afternoon discussions connected to the conference theme of "Challenges to Communities." The program will be held in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library on the River Campus.

Participants in the roundtable will focus on how to build up communities by creating partnerships at all levels. Members of the panel will be Rafael Cestero, deputy director of The Enterprise Foundation; Jonathan Feldman, senior attorney at the Public Interest Law Office of Rochester; Hank Herrera, planner and development specialist for the North East Neighborhood Alliance; Susan Ottenweller, executive director of Housing Opportunities; and Arlene Wilson, coordinator of Metro Council for Teen Potential. Ruhi Maker, senior attorney for the Public Interest Law Office of Rochester, will act as moderator.

After those remarks, guest speaker Sanjek of Queens College; Paul Burgett, vice president and general secretary of the University of Rochester; and Wade Norwood, Rochester city councilman, will respond.

Ayala Emmett, associate professor of anthropology and conference planner, intends to link issues raised during the sessions with the work of the Rochester Center for Ethnographic Studies, a project of the anthropology department. As center director, Emmett sees an opportunity to connect the intellectual resources of the University of Rochester to the needs and current realities of nearby communities.

For more information, contact the Department of Anthropology at (585) 275-8614.