City/Cité | France/United States: What is the future of urban democracy?

December 5, 2016 | By Laurence Geannopulos

City/Cité, a program created by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States in New York and Chicago and the Institut Français, in collaboration with Andrew Diamond, author and American history professor at Paris-Sorbonne University, will bring together researchers, policymakers, activists, artists, architects, and journalists—both French and American—in Paris to discuss urban democracy on December 9th and 10th, 2016.

In today’s unstable global political climate, the City/Cité program aims to provide a forum for conversation among French and American in order to encourage dialogue around the socio-political challenges of living in a city. Having launched in Chicago in 2015, the program is slated to take place to Detroit in April 2017, thus focusing on three major metropolises that are emblematic of recent urban transformation.

The Paris program, entitled City/Cité | France/United States: What is the future of urban democracy?, consisting of two days of events at CentQuatre and Maison de la Poésie, will provide a space for exchange and dynamic debate on ways to promote social and cultural inclusion, to advance political participation in city neighborhoods, and to discover new means of working towards social justice.  Beyond the immediate objective of establishing an international network of artists, researchers, local figures, and activists, the project aims to create a French-American commission on urban development policy.

At CentQuatre, a multidisciplinary arts venue, speakers will discuss the subject of neighborhoods through the lenses of art, design, music, journalism, media, and cultural heritage. Among other topics, they will investigate questions relating to the links between art and neighborhoods; the power of music to unite communities; the role of new media in a community’s socio-political life; and how independent, local media outlets communicate the opinions of individuals and leaders living in their respective neighborhoods (in a panel entitled, “Voices from the Grassroots: Independent Media in France and United States”).

Several American guests will participate in the CentQuatre program, including the sociologist and historian Richard Sennett; the author and Professor Jeff Chang; historian Thomas Sugrue; architect Monica Chadha; artist Sacramento Knoxx; director of the Arab American National Museum, Devon Akmon, and the director of Kresge Arts in Detroit, Christina deRoos. French speakers will include Jean-Louis Missika, Deputy Mayor of Paris, in charge of urban development; José Manuel Gonçalves; Director of CentQuatre; philosopher Mathieu Potte Bonneville, sociologist Nacira Guenif-Souilamas; author and film director Rokhaya Diallo; musician Mustapha Amokrane (Origines contrôlées/Zebda), and architect and urban developer Béatrice Mariolle, among several others.

An evening dedicated to Detroit will take place at the Maison de la Poésie in Paris on December 9th, curated by Sandrine Treiner, Director of France Culture, and Fabrice Rozié, French Cultural Attaché in Chicago. The event will feature Marianne Rubinstein (author of Detroit, dit elle), Arno Bitschy (director of the documentary Résilience), Juanita Moore (President of the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit), and poet Melba Boyd.

A closing evening will also take place at CentQuatre-Paris on December 10 and will include a musical performance by Sacramento Knoxx (the artist, musician, activist and Detroit native), as well as a concert by the French musical group, Mouss & Hakim (Origines contrôlées).

City/Cité is presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States in New York & Chicago and the Institut Français, in collaboration with Metro-Univers-Cité/Tactikollectif, the CentQuatre-Paris and Maison de la Poésie in Paris.  City/Cité is made possible through the support of FACE Foundation, the Embassy of the United States in Paris, the Commissariat Général à l’Egalité des Territoires, New York University, and Paris Sorbonne University.

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