Our public spaces are repositories of stories, many of which reveal both the nature of public life and the particularities of the lives that move through them. But in our attempt to understand public life, we tend to immerse ourselves in data, too often sidelining the rich variety of stories that helps us understand what animates people and gives them a sense of place. In effect, we’ve provided abstraction where a finely-textured portrait is called for. Our failure to understand public life, then, is a failure to hear the stories before us rather than a failure to measure the activity around us. It’s more than a failure in data–it’s a failure of story.
This event is co-sponsored by BCRW and The Harlem Semester, a join initiative of BCRW and the Department of Africana Studies at Barnard College.