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Timo Schrader

Studying for PhD in American Studies and History

Thesis Title

  • 'Mejore, no se mude!' New York Puerto Rican Community Activism and the Human Right to the City, 1964-2001

My thesis offers the first in-depth urban cultural analysis of the network of Puerto Rican community activism in Loisaida (part of the Lower East Side) from the 1960s to the 1990s. This community organized itself to fight against postwar urban deindustrialization, housing disinvestment, and gentrification, which negatively affected low-income areas. By recreating the urban history of sustainable activism in Loisaida and focusing on the initiatives and projects of key community organizations, I demonstrate how they sought ultimately to claim specific spaces: from housing and public spaces to educational and cultural centers. The adjective 'sustainable' does not simply connote 'environmental' but rather highlights the role of the environment in a broader sense-built environment, educational environment, cultural environment-in shaping the quality of life of an urban neighborhood. Moreover, the methodologies and rhetoric of these groups frame their activism in distinctly human rights rhetoric: the right to education, the right to housing, the right to the city.

I argue that analyzing the interplay of sustainable activism, community organizations, and space in a small urban neighborhood such as Loisaida, provides three crucial insights: (1) the necessity for community organizations to adapt their activism to changing needs of the community, (2) the importance of neighborhood control over both physical and non-physical space, and (3) Puerto Ricans' ideas about and practices of their human 'right to the city.'




  • Book Review of Sonia Song-Ha Lee, Building a Latino Civil Rights Movement: Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in New York City (2014), Journal of American Studies, Forthcoming 2016
  • Book Review of Eileen J. Su├írez Findlay, We Are Left Without a Father Here: Masculinity, Domesticity, and Migration in Postwar Puerto Rico (2014), Gender & History, Forthcoming 2016
  • "500 Shades of Blues: 'Bluesologist' Gil Scott-Heron's 'H2Ogate Blues' as Meta-performance," U. S. Studies Online, December 15, 2014
  • "Beyond the Streets: Sustainable Activism in Ferguson," University of Nottingham Blogs, December 12, 2014
  • "'Read Hear' and see and feel: reimagining a library space for one afternoon," University of Nottingham Blogs, October 20, 2014

Public Engagement Activities

  • Co-curator for a museum exhibit, Loisaida Center, NYC, October-November 2016
  • Digital archive based on thesis called Sustainable Activism in Loisaida: A Digital Archive, since December 2014
  • Paper for the Read Hear event for Black History Month, Nottingham Central Library, October 18, 2014
  • Coordinator for the public cross-departmental event "The Embittered Past? A Roundtable on the Ukraine Crisis," University of Nottingham, April 9, 2014


  • Cascade Grant, University of Nottingham, 2016-2017
  • Historians of Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) Postgraduate Travel Award, 2016-2017
  • Economic History Society (EHS) PhD Bursary Scheme, 2015-2016
  • School of Cultures, Languages, and Area Studies (CLAS) Postgraduate Research Fund, University of Nottingham, 2015-2016
  • CLAS Student Experience Fund, University of Nottingham, 2015-2016
  • Royal Historical Society (RHS) Conference Travel Award, 2015-2016
  • Graduate School Travel Prize, University of Nottingham, 2015-2016
  • The Elizabeth and Elisha Atkins Postgraduate Travel Award, British Association for American Studies (BAAS), 2015-2016
  • Postgraduate Transatlantic Travel Grant, European Association for American Studies (EAAS), 2015-2016
  • ERASMUS Exchange Program, European Commission, 2010-2011