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George Steinmetz seminar - Detroit: Ruin of a City

Date: 14 February 2007 Time: 4.30-6.30pm

George Steinmetz, Professor of Sociology and German Studies at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Michael Chanan will be giving a talk onthe documentary movie 'Detroit: Ruin of a City'which will be shown prior to a panel discussion. For more information, see

The event will take place at4.30 to 6:30 pm at IAS 3.

A summary of the movie.

*The Movie:* - Detroit , known as Motor City , once the fourth largest city in the United States , home of the Ford Motor Company, General Motors and other major car manufacturers, is nowadays a city in serious decline, which has lost more than half its population and much of its real estate. Until recently, residents would celebrate 'Devil's Night' on the eve of Halloween by going out and setting fire to dilapidated buildings. Houses, factories, stores, office blocks, theatres, even the railway station, stand in ruins or have disappeared altogether, leaving vast empty lots that have returned to nature. The home of Motown music, Detroit is also the most segregated major city in the United States and one of the poorest, struggling to provide public services for its needy inhabitants.

With the participation of Detroit artist Tyree Guyton, French sociologist Loc Wacquant, Detroit-born writer Dan Georgakas, Detroit photographer Lowell Boileau, and a variety of local residents, the film looks back over the history of the city in the twentieth century: over the rise and fall of the social system identified by social theorists as 'Fordism'; the way the city was shaped by the automobile; and its decline following the deindustrialisation which began in the 1950s, leaving it ill-adapted to the post-Fordist society of the epoch of globalisation. Much of the story is told through a rich variety of archive footage - of the Ford plants, mass protests of the Depression years, Diego Rivera painting his famous mural 'Detroit Industry', the struggle for trade union rights, the riots of 1943 and 1967 - through which the film charts the battle over the image of the city and its industry that began when the Ford Motor Company started making its own films back in 1913.

His trip will be sponsored by History, Sociology, The Journal of Historical Sociology and CeMoRe.


Who can attend:


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Sociology


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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