Montclair anthropology students joined Julian Brash, associate professor of Anthropology, on the High Line Park in New York City April 30. With support from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Brash is currently engaged in a two-year ethnographic research project examining the meaning and function of public space in the postindustrial city.
The enormously popular park, built on an abandoned railway trestle on the Westside of Manhattan, attracts tourists from across the globe, as well as workers and residents from nearby areas, joggers and students socializing after school. The High Line has been lauded as a model of contemporary urban public space, yet also criticized as an expression of the hyper-gentrification of New York City.
Dr. Brash, joined by two anthropology undergraduate research assistants, Alexis Alemy and Jennifer Rogers, is investigating who uses the park and for what purposes. Dr. Brash’s research team is exploring how public spaces such as the High Line represent the physical expression of democratic citizenship, a place where people gather, converse, and develop new ideas. Through understanding how people use and experience the High Line, Dr. Brash’s research will deepen an understanding of contemporary urban citizenship and politics.