In the Saint Jacques district of Perpignan, France, a group of Catalan Gypsies (“les gitans”) made a stand last August for the preservation of their deteriorating historic neighborhood. The city wanted to demolish and replace hundreds of buildings for the sake of the health and safety of these residents, but the residents argued that their cultural connection to the architecture was worth more than the benefit of modern buildings. The city backed down, but there is no reason to believe that the issue is settled. As buildings in cities all over the world begin to show their age, and as municipal governments realize that these picturesque neighborhoods are among their most treasured assets, the challenge of balancing heritage and progress is becoming increasingly relevant. What should cities be doing to preserve their cultural monuments while people are living inside? Continue reading “What is the Cultural Cost of Urban Development?”
For more than 60 years, the sprawling Utah State Prison sat nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountain range in Draper, Utah. The prison was home to such notorious inmates as serial killers Ted Bundy and Gary Gilmore, and serial pedophile and cult leader Warren Jeffs. Utah was the first state to reinstitute the death penalty after the Supreme Court’s moratorium ended in 1973, and the state has since executed 51 people. In 2015, the Utah legislature made the decision to relocate the prison to West Salt Lake City. In its place, Draper Mayor Troy Walker proposed to house something that, as it turns out, struck Draper citizens as far more distasteful than even the prison—a shelter for the homeless.
Hip-hop music began in the 1980s, and was primarily a means for African American communities to express commentary and frustration related to politics, discrimination, and common struggles often related to race relations. Crucially, music was being used to give voice to a people that has traditionally been suppressed or discounted because of the effects of systemic racism in the American political institution. One of the most significant groups to pioneer this genre was Public Enemy, whose music focused largely on sociopolitical commentary.