Tomorrow’s City Seminar at Washington University is led by Ben Looker, professor at St. Louis University and chronicler of urban cultural movements of the recent past.
Visions of Autonomy: Surveying the 1970s Neighborhoods Movement, from New Left to White Ethnic Revival
March 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Busch Hall Room 18, Washington University in St. Louis
Benjamin Looker, Assistant Professor of American Studies at St. Louis University (and a Washington Univ. alum) examines the radical politics of neighborhood autonomy that characterized the utopianist vanguard of the broader 1970s neighborhoods movement. After sketching its leaders’ New Left origins, Looker investigates the tensions and fissures that defined this growing urban network as leftists, libertarians, white ethnic activists, civil rights organizers, and alternative-technology evangelists jostled in provisional and unstable alliances. By tracing the often conflicted ideas of “neighborhood” and “democracy” deployed by movement intellectuals and activists, the presentation suggests that this emphatic thrust for neighborhood-level autonomy eventually contributed both to the rise of the New Right and to the formation of a dissident, localist urban counterculture.