Lecture Recap and Video: Jonathan Jae-an Crisman on 'Civic Expression: Art, Culture and the Built Environment in Little Tokyo'

Nov. 4, 2021

How does art and culture intersect with urban development and the built environment?

Many scholars have demonstrated how art can be a catalyst that begins a process of gentrification, as artists move into affordable neighborhoods and eventually bring cultural cache and new amenities like galleries, coffee shops, and high-end development. But in the historic Japanese American community of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, the community is coming together and using art as a means to organize and fight gentrification. How does this square with what we might otherwise expect from the academic literature? This talk will dwell on the many underappreciated potentials and uses of art and culture in the built environment, especially with respect to community development and urban change.

Watch the Lecture

About Jonathan Jae-an Crisman

Jonathan Jae-an Crisman is an artist and urban scholar whose work considers the intersections between culture, politics, and place. His book Urban Humanities: New Practices for Reimagining the City (MIT Press, 2020), co-authored with Dana Cuff, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Todd Presner and Maite Zubiaurre, stakes out new disciplinary terrain for the humanities. His current research focuses on the role that art and culture can play as forms of political engagement in gentrifying cities, and (with collaborator Maite Zubiaurre) on the forensic, cultural and political practices around migrant death in the Borderlands. Work from his collaborative art practice has been shown at the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, West Bund Biennial of Arts and Architecture and Reykjavík Arts Festival. He was formerly the founding project director and core faculty for the UCLA Urban Humanities Initiative, and was a research affiliate with USC’s Spatial Analysis Lab (SLAB) where he worked with Annette Kim on humanizing cartographic representation.



Jonathan Jae-an Crisman, Assistant Professor, Public and Applied Humanities, University of Arizona


CAPLA Lecture Series Event


November 3, 2021