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March 19, 2017
Dear Members and Friends of the Urban Policy and Planning Community:
I write with deep sorrow to inform you of the passing of Professor Peter Kwong, who died of cardiac arrest on Friday, March 17th.
Professor Kwong had been a member of the Hunter faculty since 1993, where he was a Distinguished Professor in the Urban Policy and Planning Department and a Professor of Asian-American studies. He was also a member of the doctoral faculty in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. In our department, he regularly taught a workshop for incoming students in the graduate program in Urban Policy and Leadership, and courses on immigration and the gentrification of Chinatown. Over his career, he taught as a Visiting Professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, the City University of Hong Kong, and the People’s University of China, as well as Princeton, Oberlin, Yale, Columbia, Berkeley, and UCLA.
Peter Kwong was born in China in 1941. He came to this country to attend Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he received a B.A. in math and physics. He subsequently earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering at Columbia University before enrolling at Columbia to get a certificate in East Asian Studies and a Ph.D. in political science.
Peter had a passionate commitment to issues of social justice and a long record of activism concerning conditions in the Asian-American community. His career spanned the fields of scholarship, journalism and film-making, all directed to improve the lives of people who were marginalized by discrimination or social deprivation. A recent article in New York Magazine referred to him as the “Dean of Chinatown Studies.”
He was the author of five books and hundreds of articles. Among his books were Chinese America: The Untold Story of America’s Oldest New Community, which he co-authored with his wife, Dusanka Miscevic, a historian and frequent collaborator; Forbidden Workers: Illegal Chinese Immigrants and American Labor; and The New Chinatown. Kwong challenged the notion that Asians are a model minority, revealing in his research widespread class divisions, poverty, exploitation, drug abuse, and organized crime -- all of which were exacerbated by decades of discrimination by a majority white society. At the time of his death, Peter and his wife were completing a history of Chinese immigration in the western United States, and he was beginning to work on an autobiography.
Peter’s journalism appeared in such outlets as The Nation, Village Voice, International Herald Tribune, and Philadelphia Inquirer. He was frequently interviewed by the New York Times and other major news outlets. His essay on multi-cultural race riots in Los Angeles, published in the Village Voice in 1992, merited the Sidney Hillman Foundation Prize, the George Polk Award, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His 1990 article in the Village Voice on Chinese drug cartels, co-authored with Dusanka Miscevic, was also nominated for a Pulitzer.
As with his scholarship and journalism, Peter’s filmmaking always delivered a strong social message. His 1980 PBS film, Third Avenue: Only the Strong Survive, documented steep class divisions along Manhattan’s East Side, and won him an Emmy Award. His HBO documentary, China Unnatural Disaster, co-produced with Jon Alpert, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010. The heart-wrenching film highlighted corruption, incompetence and neglect by the Chinese government that became apparent as a result of the catastrophic earthquake of 2008 in Sichuan Provence that killed 70,000 people, including 10,000 children. The Chinese police detained Peter and Jon Alpert during the course of the filming.
Peter Kwong enjoyed an international reputation as an activist, scholar, journalist, and film-maker. He was a personal friend of the Dalai Lama, who, because of Peter’s good graces, has visited Hunter College on two occasions. Peter and his wife “Douska” reciprocated in 2011 by accepting an invitation from the spiritual leader to visit his residence in India.
Our community will dearly miss Peter’s irreplaceable presence. A memorial service celebrating his extraordinary life and achievements will be held at Hunter College later this spring. Details will be posted on both the college and department websites when final arrangements are made.
With Sincere Regrets,
Joseph P. Viteritti
Thomas Hunter Professor of Public Policy
Chair, Urban Policy and Planning Department
UPP Chair Joseph P. Viteritti was quoted in The New York Times article, “Questioning Whether de Blasio Will Learn From a Teachable Moment”, March 17, 2017. To read, click here.
Professor Gross was busily over her winter break. She participated in a PodCast with two urban governance scholars: Susan Clarke, Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado Boulder (http://www.colorado.edu/polisci/people/faculty-emeritus/susan-clarke) and Allison Bramwell, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (https://psc.uncg.edu/people/bramwell/). In Part 1 the conversation explores the question of whether "Collaborative Governance" is the next phase for urban research? In Part 2 they ask: "What do we gain or overlook in a "collaborative governance" approach?
Both PodCasts can be found at the Urban Affairs Forum Presented by Urban Affairs Review web site https://urbanaffairsreview.com
UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti appeared on Brian Lehrer's POTUS 2016 on December 7 to discuss Trump's cabinet appointments in HUD and education. To watch the episode "A Look into Trump's Cabinet" click here.
MUP student Maggie Calmes and Gotham Gazette Reporter, Samar Khurshid's 'Fair Share' story published in two parts in the Gotham Gazette.
Part 1, The City May Soon Have More Formal 'Fair Share'Discussion (November 18, 2016) and Part 2, 'Fair Share' Design Flaws, Flashpoints & Possible Updates (November 21, 2016).
Prof. Peter Kwong talks about the growing impact of art galleries in Chinatown at the town hall meeting,"Chinatown is Not for Sale", October 22, 2016. For more details, read "Artists and Gallerists Grapple with Ways to Slow Gentrification in Manhattan’s Chinatown".
Prof. Peter Kwong quoted in NY Times article, "In a Promise to Lift a Curse, a Scheme to Steal Chinese Immigrants’ Savings", by Liz Robbins, October 20, 2016. Click here for further reading.
Calvin Brown, MUP Alumni and DCP Planner, is featured prominently in "City’s East Harlem Plan Tracks Community Blueprint", Citylimits.org, October 19, 2016.
For further reading, click here.
MUP students in Prof. Pablo Vengoechea's Fall 2016 planning studio class, Downtown Commercial Corridors of Staten Island, are covered in NY1 News, "Graduate Students Seek Input on How to Revitalize North Shore", October 19, 2016. The students held a workshop with members of the community to seek input about their project.
UPP Adjunct Charles Starks gives a talk at Federal Hall on George McAneny, a New York politician and city planner of the early 20th century. Participating in a Q&A with Charles Starks will be the Manhattan Borough Historian, Michael Miscione, and preservationist Anthony C. Wood. For further details, click here.
Prof. Jill Gross' recent publication, "Hybridization and Urban Governance Malleability, Modality, or Mind-Set?." Urban Affairs Review (2016): 1078087416637127. Cracks the top 50 most read articles in the journal for the month of August-- #39 and counting!
Photography by Rashedul Deepon, Master in Urban Planning student, is featured in The NYC Hustle exhibition Strictly New York 3 August 25-27, 2016. For further reading, click here.
Prof. Matthew Lasner argues for more government subsidies for housing in The Nation's article " The Case for Public Housing". For further reading, click here.
MSUPL students Samantha Chiafolo, Dina Amer, Wednesday Moore, and Rashad Dismute were selected as New York State Excelsior Fellows 2016-2017. The fellowship program is an initiative to bring highly talented graduates into government service. Fellows will be working over the next two year on high level policy initiatives at the state level.
Hunter UPP Professor Jill Simone Gross' latest Journal article "Hybridization and Urban Governance: Malleability, Modality, or Mind-Set?" Urban Affairs Review 1078087416637127, first published on April 11, 2016 as doi:10.1177/1078087416637127 just released for viewing Online First at Urban Affairs Review. The article is part of a mini symposium on urban governance with Susan E. Clarke, Allison Bramwell and Jon Pierre.
UPP Prof. Jill Simone Gross's newest article "Migrants and the Right to the City" has just been published in Yasminah Beebeejaun (Ed.) The Participatory City (Berlin: JOVIS Verlag GmbH, 2016). The article explores "ongoing patterns of exclusion, and the inability of cities to engage citizens in efforts to build socially cohesive neighborhoods." She asks, "what if anything a right to the city might offer to planners seeking to counter or challenge the forces of...balkanization in the contemporary city?" She uses the case of Dublin, Ireland to illustrate these dilemmas.
Details of the book can be found at https://www.jovis.de/en/books/details/the-participatory-city.html
Prof. Jill Simone Gross, Director of the M.S. Urban Policy and Leadership program, was elected to serve a second term as Chair of the Urban Affairs Association. The second term runs from spring 2016 to spring 2017.
Professors John Chin, Sigmund Shipp, Jill Simone Gross, current MS Urban Policy and Leadership Student Caitlin Ho, and ABD Marry Rocco (University of Pennsylvania and Hunter, MUP graduate) just returned from a fantastic Urban Affairs Association Conference in San Diego. They all made our Department shine, while bringing a strong lens to issues of social justice!
Prof. John Chin and Caitlin Ho presented their paper: "Gendered Labor Markets within Ethnic Economies: Asian Immigrant Women Working in Sexually Oriented Massage Parlors in New York City," on behalf of John Chin, Hunter College CUNY; Lois M. Takahashi, UCLA; Douglas J. Wiebe, University of Pennsylvania; Caitlin Ho, Hunter College CUNY
Prof. Sigmund Shipp presented a paper Titled: "The Geography of White Poverty", on behalf of Sigmund Shipp, Hunter College; Lynn McCormick, Hunter College; Mary Rocco, University of Pennsylvania.
Mary Rocco, MUP Hunter, ABD University of Pennsylvania gave a paper on her doctoral work titled, "Revitalizing Legacy Cities in the 21st Century: The Role of Foundations"
And Prof. Jill Simone Gross brought an international lens to her standing room only Colloquy titled: "Re-thinking Justice in the City in the Wake of Ferguson and Baltimore" with Todd Swanstrom, University of Missouri-St. Louis; Michael Leo Owens, Emory University; Henry Taylor, University of Buffalo; and Cathy Schnieder, American University.
Other notable Hunter sightings at the conference included former Teaching Fellow Kimberly Libman (PhD Environmental Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center, now at the New York Academy of Medicine). Dr, Libman presented a paper titled"New York State Hospital “Community Building” Investments: Will They Advance Health Equity?." Shauneequa Owusu, a graduate of the MS Urban Affairs program (currently at New York Academy of Medicine) moderated a panel titled "Health and Community Development: Rethinking Anchor Investments and Institutions." Fredrica D. Kramer, DPA, gave a paper titled "The Loss of Social Diversity in Urban Revitalization and the Promise of Social Impact Assessment to Fix It." Dr, Kramer is an educator, researcher and consultant who came to Hunter to work with Paul Davidoff and was in the first class of MUP graduates in 1968. Dr. Kramer, is currently based in Washington DC. Also in attendance was Professor Kevin Keenan, PhD. ( College of Charleston, and among our adjunct summer school faculty), who gave a paper titled,"The Gender Values-Vulnerability Nexus and Studying Societal Responses to Terrorism."
Prof. Laxmi Ramasubramanian has been appointed by Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, to serve on the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC). The Committee will review and comment on geospatial policy and management issues and provide a forum to convey views representative of non-Federal partners in the geospatial community. Prof. Ramasubramanian will hold a three-year appointment concluding December 31, 2018.
Additional information can be found at:
Prof. Matthew Lasner's book and exhibit on affordable housing featured in "The Long, Complicated History of Affordable Housing in New York," written by Eillie Anzilotti, The Atlanta City Lab.
UPP Visiting Professor Pablo Vengoechea’s project, The Landmark Colony, is the focus of New York Times article,”New Life for Staten Island’s Derelict Farm Colony”, written by David W. Dunlap, January 20, 2016.
The Landmark Colony project, headed by architects Pablo Vengoechea and Timothy G. Boyland is a master plan for the redevelopment of Staten Island’s derelict Farm Colony. Staten Island Developer, Raymond Masucci purchased 45 acres of the Farm Colony for $1 and plans to rehabilitate it at a cost of about $91 million dollars. The plan includes building approximately 350 senior-targeted condominium units, the rehabilitation of 5 of the 11 historic buildings, approximately 17,000 SF of commercial space, and much more. For further reading, click here.
Prof. Matthew Lasner's new book, "Affordable Housing in New York:The People, Places, and Policies That Transformed a City", is the subject of Slate Magazine article, "The People Who Call New York’s Affordable Housing Developments Home", written by Jordan G. Teiche, February 1, 2016.
UPP Distinguished Professor Peter Kwong quoted in Radio Free Asia, CBS Money Watch, and AlJazeera, December 2015.
China Seeks Wider Global Reach With African Loans, Naval Presence: Analysts Reported
by Yang Jiadai for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie, Radio Free Asia, December 4, 2015.
Xi Jinping delivers a speech in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 4, 2015 announcing China would be extending $60 billion in debt facilities to African countries as well as writing off existing loans in a three-year plan to extend its influence in the region. Peter Kwong, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York, agreed, saying that China appears to be taking a well-trodden colonialist path in Africa. "It's very similar to the [European] colonialism of the 19th century," Kwong said. "It's not just about resources; it's also about achieving political control over these places." For further reading, click here..
China's crackdown on graft, media obscures picture for investors
Written by Robert Hennelly, Money Watch, December 21, 2015.
"Nobody inside China wants to do news or documentaries anymore because the politics are so unsettled," said Peter Kwong, a documentary filmmaker and professor of Chinese-American history at Hunter College in New York. "They are doing very safe things. People are intimidated." For further reading, click here..
Gentrification threatens Chinatowns across the US
Development and rising rents are pushing many ethnic Chinese out of the neighbourhoods they call home.
Written by Gabriel Elizondo, Lucia He, Business & Economy, United States, Aljazeera, December 29, 2015.
"A Chinatown is not just where the people reside. Chinatown is a place where social networks, economic fabrics have been built," Kwong said. "New immigrants come, want to adjust, want to find a job, want to know how to fund a business. And the information, the material, the supplies, all these things come from a place like Chinatown."The development of cities has been pressuring Chinese communities to move out of the neighbourhoods where they have been living for decades, according to Kwong. For further reading, click here..
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