We are pleased to report that Places Journal has received a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. On August 15, the Foundation announced that it had awarded $448,000 in grants to organizations to support 40 projects; the projects were selected from a larger field of over 200 applications.
Places’ grant will fund a series of in-depth articles, “History of the Present,” focusing on cities undergoing profound transitions as a result of extraordinary political, social, economic and environmental challenges.
Havana, Yangon, Belgrade, Dhaka, Harare, Murmansk: In the early 21st century all are grappling with the consequences of tumultuous 20th-century geopolitics. Havana, Cuba, on the verge of the post-Castro era, and Belgrade, Serbia, still reeling from the Milosevic years, are balancing on the faultline between capitalist and command economies, even as the world-order divide between East and West recedes into history. The former colonial capital of Yangon, Myanmar, has become notorious in recent years as the setting of the house arrest of humanitarian activist Aung San Suu Kui; today it is re-engaging the international scene after decades of political and economic isolation. The megalopolis of Dhaka, Bangladesh, one of the world’s fastest-growing cities, is being tested by rapid modernization; arguably the most critical test is to ensure the supply of water, which is now, along with oil, one of the planet’s contested resources. A generation ago Harare, Zimbabwe — formerly Salisbury, Rhodesia — was hailed as a beacon of post-colonial African urbanism; today, after decades of predatory dictatorship, the impoverished city has been labeled the least livable on earth. The largest of the Arctic Circle cities, and the last to be founded in Tsarist Russia, Murmansk had been in decline since the breakup of the Soviet Union; today, as melting seas enable the Arctic oil rush, the city at 68° north latitude faces a Faustian choice between economic boom and the environmental dangers of global warming.
We are also pleased to acknowledge Graham Foundation awards to photographer Robert Dawson, for his project Public Library: An American Commons, published in Places in 2011; and to Woodbury University School of Architecture, one of our academic partners, for the exhibition Beyond Environment.