Ours to Lose - Author Talk with Amy Starecheski
Though New York’s Lower East Side today is home to high-end condos and hip restaurants, it was for decades an infamous site of disinvestment, open-air drug dealing, and class conflict—an emblematic example of the tattered state of 1970s and ’80s Manhattan.
Those decades of strife, however, also gave the Lower East Side something unusual: a radical movement that blended urban homesteading and European-style squatting in a way never before seen in the United States. Ours to Lose tells the oral history of that movement through a close look at a diverse group of Lower East Side squatters who occupied abandoned city-owned buildings in the 1980s, fought to keep them for decades, and eventually began a long, complicated process to turn their illegal occupancy into legal cooperative ownership. Amy Starecheski here not only tells a little-known New York story, she also shows how property shapes our sense of ourselves as social beings and explores the ethics of homeownership and debt in post-recession America.
In this multimedia event Starecheski will play some of the oral histories on which the book is based and share some highlights from Ours to Lose.
Amy Starecheski is co-director of the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia University. She received a PhD in cultural anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center, where she was a Public Humanities Fellow. In 2016 she was awarded the Sapiens-Allegra “Will the Next Margaret Mead Please Stand Up?” prize for public anthropological writing.