Washington University in St. Louis
Cities Studied

Accra (Ghana), Berlin, East St. Louis, Ferguson (Missouri), Granite City, Nairobi, Oshogbo, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Valmeyer (Illinois),


Jean Allman
Director, Center for the Humanities

Bruce Lindsey
Dean, College of Architecture/Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design

The Divided City is a joint project of the Center for the Humanities and the College and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design at Washington University. Our goal is to place humanities scholars into productive interdisciplinary dialogue with architects, urban designers, sociologists, and others around one of the most persistent and vexing issues in urban studies: segregation.

Sample Projects

Faculty Collaborative Grants 

In order to encourage broad faculty support for the Divided City initiative, we offer competitive grants for Washington University faculty that support collaborative work with colleagues locally and/or globally.  The collaboration must involve the humanities and at least one other discipline. Currently, we have six projects funded through the Faculty Collaborative Grants.

  1. Tale of Two Cities: Documenting Our Divides is a course taught in the fall of 2015.  It represents the first cross-listed class between Arts and Sciences and the College of Art. The College of Art intends to offer the class annually.
  2. Segregation by Design: A Historical Analysis of the Impact of Planning and Policy in St. Louis is the title for a new cross-university, transdisciplinary undergraduate seminar to be offered at Washington University in the fall semester of 2016.  Not only is this course interdisciplinary, it is also collaborative between two universities, Washington University and Harris Stowe, a historically black university.
  3. "Charting the American Bottom," a traveling exhibition, publication, and symposium, seeks to tell a political, spatial, social, and ecological history of the American Bottom while theorizing a broader landscape of displacement.  The American Bottom refers to an area surrounding the Mississippi River and covering portions of Southern Illinois.
  4. “Oral Histories of Ferguson,” through a series of interviews, explores how the activists associated with the Ferguson movement became involved initially; what their goals, strategies, and political identities were at the start, and how they evolved over the course of the year; what events, activities, and resources enabled and encouraged them to make progress toward their goals; what obstacles they faced; and how they dealt with these challenges.
  5. Noon in the City: Odunde and its Challenge to Philadelphia is a book and film project focused on South Philadelphia resident Lois Oshunbumi Fernandez and her attempt to establish the Yoruba festival of Odunde as a cultural marker of black identity in Philadelphia, in order to stake a claim against gentrification.
  6. “Visualizing Urban History” brings a multi-disciplinary approach to tracing the history of a place and its built environment. The museum exhibit produced through the project will showcase the powerful use of humanities methods in urban scholarship, calling attention to both the evidence used by historians and the analytic stance of humanists.

The Public Life Survey

A methodology based on observations, interviews, measurements, photography, and mapping shows how public spaces are used.  The goal of the survey is to better understand how public space is used and to deploy this information in order to design new public spaces.  Previously the Public Life Survey only included Architecture and Urban Design students. For the first time in the spring of 2015, Humanities students participated in the Public Life Survey in Berlin.


Charting the American Bottom Exhibit

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Charting the American Bottom Exhibit




St. Louis,

This exhibition brings together photographs by Jennifer Colten with historical and interpretive text edited and written by Jesse Vogler, who made excursions into the margins of the East St. Louis flood plane over the past year, occupying and recording its traces.

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Divided City Public Life Survey

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Divided City Public Life Survey





The Public Life Survey, building on the seminal work The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte, is a methodology based on observations, interviews, measurements, photography and mapping to show how public spaces are actually used.

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