Verso Tweets Break Windows

This is cross-posted on the CUNY Academic Commons News blog as part of the Citation Needed series I am writing there.

Thanks to a retweet from Tressie McMillan Cottom (one of the best academic wranglers of the blue bird), I got transported back to my days as a Ph.D. student at the CUNY Grad Center.

Verso Books (which has a very impressive Twitter presence, by the way) had the editors of Policing the Planet share their top 5 books about the broken windows theory of crime. I was intrigued and followed the link—nothing competes with a 90s cover of Time magazine for clickbait—and was struck by the first book on the list:

The late Neil Smith‘s The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City topped the list! That may have been the most formative book I read during grad school, and if I was smarter I would have taken the work I did with Smith on using 80s and 90s films to analyze the popular representation of gentrification pop culture and turned it into a dissertation. My official focus was on Early American impulses towards Imperialism, but my heart was always stuck in 80s. In fact, long after I dropped out of the CUNY Ph.D. program in English I published my paper on the topic on my vanity press of a blog: “Of Punks, Pimps, and CHUDs: Gentrification in NYC as told by 1980s Film.” I’m still sentimental about that one, and one of these days I need to return to it and replace some of the YouTube clips from the various films they so inconveniently took down.

Not only was it cool to a book near and dear to my heart inform current scholarship and resistance around policing the city. I was also struck by how effectively Verso uses Twitter not only to promote their books, but also share some great related titles. For example, the other four books that inspired the editors of Policing the Planet were (drumroll please)….

This is a solid list for anyone interested in a critical analysis of the history of policing, and I was struck how Verso made it interesting, accessible, and memorable. As I blog for the CUNY Academic Commons I find myself thinking about how this works. Is there a space where folks are promoting the various scholarship happening at the Grad Center? I mean Neil Smith has a rich history at the Grad Center, and Verso reminded me of that, what is the Academic Commons doing to regularly highlight the scholarship coming out of CUNY’s think tank?

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