Cities After…Urban Activisms at the Border with Fonna Forman & Teddy Cruz


[S03 E03] Urban Activisms at the Border with Fonna Forman & Teddy Cruz

In this episode of Cities After…, Prof. Robles-Durán interviews Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman about their work with public institutions and community partners on both sides of the US/Mexico border, in San Diego and Tijuana. Tijuana, as Cruz reminds us, has always been a geography of conflict and of crisis. Cruz and Forman’s work is deliberately situated at the intersection of formal, often exclusionary, American institutions and grassroots community organizing. By building coalitions, the interplay between various groups—researchers/political scientists and migrants/community organizers becomes more collaborative and less top-down. Their goal for creating community stations is to build public space that is “not about beautification, but public space that is deliberately injected with co-curatorial programming in perpetuity.” In this conversation, Cruz, Forman, and Robles-Durán discuss changes in border politics since Trump, asylum policies and climate change, working with formal institutions and creating “cultural coyote” organizations, the challenges they face while working at the local level, and more.

Cities After… is a bi-weekly podcast about the future of cities; grounded in our daily urban struggles, it is part dystopian and part utopian. The intention is to entice civic imagination into action, because a more just and sustainable urban future is possible.

Miguel Robles-Durán is an urbanist with expertise in the design and analysis of complex urban systems and urban political-ecology. He is an associate professor of urbanism and director of the graduate urban programs at The New School / Parsons School of Design in New York City. Read his full bio on our website.

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About our guests: Teddy Cruz (MDes Harvard University) is a Professor of Public Culture and Urbanization in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. He is known internationally for his urban research of the Tijuana/San Diego border, advancing border neighborhoods as sites of cultural production from which to rethink urban policy, affordable housing, and public space. 

Fonna Forman (PhD University of Chicago) is a Professor of Political Theory at the University of California, San Diego and Founding Director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice. Her work focuses on climate justice, borders and migration, and participatory urbanization. She serves as Co-Chair of the University of California’s Global Climate Leadership Council.

Together they are principals in Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, a research-based political and architectural practice in San Diego investigating borders, informal urbanization, climate resilience, civic infrastructure and public culture. They lead a variety of urban research agendas and civic/public interventions in the San Diego-Tijuana border region and beyond. They have two new monographs: Spatializing Justice: Building Blocks and Socializing Architecture: Top-Down / Bottom-Up (MIT Press and Hatje Cantz) and one forthcoming: Unwalling Citizenship (Verso).
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