The project, “Insurgent Midwest: Transnational Dialogues for a Humane Urbanism,” involves engaged scholars at UIUC and UMN and social movement activists in the US Midwest, Mexico, and South Africa. The research team document and explore the insurgent practices and transnational connections of social movements organizing for labor and housing justice in Chicago, Cape Town, and Mexico City. The project combines ethnographic research and qualitative interviews with a series of dialogue workshops and multi-media productions to examine the forms of networked struggles and north/south solidarities being developed to challenge urban inequality and marginalization —namely struggles to achieve a dignified livelihood and humane urbanism.
Our preliminary explorations reveal the Midwest as a globally connected region that is being transformed through global processes of urban development, localized insurgent practices, and transnational solidarities. We examine the global and insurgent Midwest as a node in a network of transnational organizing and mobilizing practices that are restructuring the urban landscapes of the traditional Midwest through dialectic opposition of processes that occur both “from above” and “from below”. The movement activists and scholars engaged in this project are convinced of the need to organize across sectors (work/housing) and nation spaces (Mexico/U.S./South Africa). They have strong historical and transnational ties with grassroots struggles across global north/south and see much value in transnational and cross-sectoral organizing and in the knowledge they exchange and produce. But the processes, practices, and impacts of such exchanges are rarely documented, scarcely analyzed, and seldom made visible through dominant narratives of urban development.
This project seeks to study, record, represent, exhibit, screen, and broadcast online the voices and stories of insurgent organizations and their struggles in the Midwest and beyond.