New pub on #SchoolClosures #Neoliberalism out in BCRWs The Scholar & Feminist Online

It took almost five years, but the work is finally live!! Some other time I’ll write about the long and winding road, but I’m delighted to share that my and Ujju Aggarwal’s co-authored piece, From Forgotten to Fought Over: Neoliberal Restructuring, Public Schools, and Urban Space,
is part of the latest issue of The Scholar & Feminist Online.  This is really an amazing collection of work.

Special thanks to Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) and the folks and The Scholar & Feminist Online for being supportive hosts, and a huge, huge thanks to our rad editors Soniya Munshi and Craig Wilse.

So without further ado:


Navigating Neoliberalism in the Academy, Nonprofits, and Beyond

Issue 13.2 | Spring 2015

The Octopus, drawing by Nicci Yin Created as part of the presentation “The Octopus: Cognitive Capitalism and the University” with Natalia Cecire and Miriam Neptune at The Scholar & Feminist 2015: Action on Educaiton. - See more at:

The Octopus, drawing by Nicci Yin
Created as part of the presentation “The Octopus: Cognitive Capitalism and the University” with Natalia Cecire and Miriam Neptune at The Scholar & Feminist 2015: Action on Educaiton. – See more at:


About this Issue

This issue of The Scholar & Feminist Online, edited by scholar-activists Soniya Munshi and Craig Willse, explores the nonprofit and the university as two key sites in which neoliberalism’s gendered and racialized social and economic formations are constituted and contested, opening new possibilities in the critical work of resisting and imagining beyond the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) and the academic industrial complex (AIC). Emerging out of a 2009 meeting at the American Studies Association convened by Munshi and Willse and drawing on the theoretical and historical models articulated by INCITE! Women, Gender Non-conforming, and Trans People of Color Against Violence, this issue foregrounds inquiries into how neoliberalism has reconstituted education, service provision, and social justice organizing in ways that serve and further the harms caused by capitalism, gendered hierarchies of heteropatriarchy, racism, and white supremacy. Contributors also consider the ways that people working inside nonprofits and schools mobilize resistance to neoliberalism and develop alternatives within and outside their current institutional formations.


From Forgotten to Fought Over: Neoliberal Restructuring, Public Schools, and Urban Space


Brandeis High School was located on 84th Street in an area of Manhattan known as the Upper West Side. However, 84th Street was not always the Upper West Side. Historically, 84th Street and the area surrounding it were primarily comprised of low-income African American, Haitian, Latino, and White residents. Like so many other neighborhoods of New York City, as a result of multiple waves of gentrification, the area is now comprised of a percentage of affluent residents, the majority of whom are White. Amidst these neighborhood shifts, however, Brandeis continued to serve low-income students and students of color until 2009, when the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) decided that it was a failing school and slated it to be phased out, or closed.[1]

Brandeis was one of several large, comprehensive high schools in New York City. It was also the case study for Michelle Fine’s seminal Framing Dropouts.[2] To a large extent, the conditions that Fine documented over twenty years ago have not considerably changed over time: Brandeis continued both to be under-resourced and to serve a student body that was predominantly low-income and Black and Latino.[3] The school also served a large number of English language learners as well as students with special needs. Brandeis was among over 100 schools that were closed during Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as Mayor.[4] In many ways, Brandeis is representative of a forgotten or abandoned place, which Ruth Wilson Gilmore describes as “planned concentrations or sinks—of hazardous materials and destructive practices that are in turn sources of group-differentiated vulnerabilities to premature death ….”[5]

During the phase out of Brandeis, as the students slowly disappeared, the question arose as to what should be built in the space. And it was during this time that Brandeis—or more precisely, the building that once housed Brandeis—transformed from being a place that was once forgotten and never sought after, to one that became fought over.

Several scholars have drawn upon David Harvey’s articulation of accumulation by dispossession to highlight the relationships between restructuring in education, the increasingly explicit role of market forces that permeate state-driven education reforms, and the gentrification of urban neighborhoods.[6] Building upon the work of these scholars, we use historical and ethnographic methods to examine what the case of Brandeis might tell us about how the continued production of what Gilmore terms “group differentiated vulnerability to premature death”[7] occurs in tandem through urban renewal and education reform.[8]

In the sections that follow, we trace state-driven education reforms and urban renewal programs that moved through Brandeis and through the Upper West Side over the course of several decades. We begin with an examination of how the education reforms that claimed to fix Brandeis only allowed for a continued dispossession. While these reforms ensured that the world inside Brandeis remained consistent over time, the world outside the building was changing rapidly. We chart how urban renewal programs for the Upper West Side facilitated a gradually increasing disjuncture between the school and its surrounding community. Finally, we interrogate the cultural logic that undergirded the negotiation of this disjuncture during what we term the postmortem period of Brandeis phase out.[9]

– See more at:


About emayorga

Edwin Mayorga is a parent, educator, scholar and activist. He is an instructor in the Department of Educational Studies at Swarthmore College (PA). He is completing his doctoral studies in Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY-GC). He is director of the Education in our Barrios @BarrioEdProj, a digital, community-based, study that examines Latino core community in NYC & PHL, education reform, and urban development.

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