Urban Studies Historian to Examine Changes in Suburbia

On March 22, Becky Nicolaides, Ph.D., will discuss the contours of change in diversifying suburbia.

Becky Nicolaides in suburban settingBecky Nicolaides, Ph.D., affiliated research scholar of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and research affiliate with the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, will present the Urban Studies Annual Lecture on "Suburbs in Transition: Diversity and the American Dream” on Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in room 5B of the Kelly Commons.

Nicolaides’ work is concerned with how suburbia has influenced patterns of social and civic engagement over the past 50 years, and if suburban sprawl is to blame for a decline in such engagement. With a focus on Los Angeles, Nicolaides traces the ways suburbia itself has changed and how those transformations have shaped the nature of local civic and social life.

In exploring these themes, she investigates the social impact of racial politics, the ways that immigration has changed the texture of suburban life and the role of changing family dynamics.  In her lecture, she will focus especially on how immigration and changing demographics have impacted suburban landscapes and cultures, reflecting varied climates of receptivity toward ethnic suburbanites. This created important contexts for local participation.

Nicolaides received her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 1993, and went on to serve on the faculties of Arizona State University West and UC San Diego. She serves as co-editor for the Historical Studies of Urban America series published by University of Chicago Press and is the co-coordinator of the L.A History and Metro Studies group at the Huntington Library.

She is at work on her third book, to be titled On the Ground in Suburbia: A Chronicle of Social and Civic Transformation in Los Angeles Since 1945, with major funding from the Haynes Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Huntington Library.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the department of history, department of sociology, the peace studies program, and the office of Campus Ministry and Social Action.

For more information, contact Adam Arenson, Ph.D., director of the urban studies program, at adam.arenson@manhattan.edu.

By Pete McHugh