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The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination
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The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  276 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In this gripping memoir of the AIDS years (1981–1996), Sarah Schulman recalls how much of the rebellious queer culture, cheap rents, and a vibrant downtown arts movement vanished almost overnight to be replaced by gay conservative spokespeople and mainstream consumerism. Schulman takes us back to her Lower East Side and brings it to life, filling these pages with vivid mem ...more
Hardcover, 179 pages
Published February 6th 2012 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,143)
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Elaine
Jul 14, 2013 Elaine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
There are times during this book when I wanted to throttle Schulman - some of her political analysis is facile and even knee-jerk, and she endows swathes of the population with a host of characteristics that she condemns as "gentrified", by which she sometimes means just traits that she doesn't like.

But there were also times when I felt like standing up in my train seat and cheering her on, because this book is saying in its cacophonous, slightly obnoxious way many true and heartbreaking things
...more
Mattilda
I've been waiting for this book for years, and take a look at this incredible paragraph:

"The deaths of these 81,542 New Yorkers, who were despised and abandoned, who did not have rights or representation, who died because of the neglect of their government and families, has been ignored. This gaping hole of silence has been filled by the deaths of 2,752 people murdered by outside forces. The disallowed grief of 20 years of AIDS deaths was replaced by ritualized and institutionalized mourning of
...more
Alvin
I've always thought of Sarah Schulman as a hero for her work as an AIDS activist and Gay Libber, so I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed.

I know of nobody else who's so carefully analyzed the horrific consequences of gentrification and excessive social stratification on both culture and the individual human psyche. (Hint: people with gentrified minds tend to become boring conformists and/or social climbing snobs who identify with the ruling class, don't know understand h
...more
Sarah
It's really easy for me to read books that I find comfortable. Books that make me happy, or soothe me, or amuse me. But I know that the books that upset me, or make me uncomfortable, or leave me awake in the middle of the night are frequently the ones that I really need to read.

I've been someone who has celebrated gentrified GLBTQ victories, and not even realized the ways in which they can be problematic. I'm a middle class cisgendered white girl who sometimes can't even see the structures of my
...more
Liz
not three stars like "it was okay", three stars like "love-hate". I really want people to read this so we can talk about it, it's pretty short, come on

really into her fundamental thesis that it's productive to compare the erasure of marginalised (in this case, queer) histories to the erasure of marginalised neighbourhoods through gentrification — often literally, as in the case of the process of gentrification in new york being sped up by the aids-related deaths of queers in rent-controlled apar
...more
Jessica Silk
I agree with others who said this is an important book. Two parts I would like to share/save for myself:

"It's never going to change," a wealthy, white, male, MFA-trained playwright told me about the exclusion of women playwrights from the American theater. "And if you try, people will say you are difficult."
On the other hand, Audre Lorde--Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet--told me, "That you can't fight City Hall, is a rumor being spread by City Hall."

"Be we currently live with a stupefying
...more
Elizabeth
I read this in February and thought it was quite something. So powerful and captured my attention all the way through. Sad, bracing, and a critical work that helped me to understand individual and societal struggles of the 1980s as well as those of today. A crucial study that does not shy away from the truth.
Ammi Emergency
This is one of the most important books I've read in years. I read it in a day and have talked about its thesis every day since. So vital, so life giving, and exceptionally gorgeously written on a prose level too.
Fr. River
January 10, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination by Sarah Sculman--4th Day of Guantanamo Fast


Sarah Schulman writes of gentrification ans says that it is homogenity--a means of making everything the same, without diversity--which protects people from the pain of life, it keeps them from seeing the pain around them. She quotes Sara Ahmed: "Happiness for some involves persecution for others; it is not that this happiness produces a social wrong, but it might even be depende
...more
Tyler
I think I love this woman.

While her ideals are very clear throughout the book, I share them and they are very important to community and human happiness. She cleverly reveals the connections between gentrification and private life, and tells it like it is regarding gay marriage. Gentrification serves as relief from gentrification - as consolation for lack of community, individuals withdrawn into their own private families and careers. She mentions the pervasive self-help mantra of "just accept t
...more
Jason Gordon
Sarah Schulman's book discusses the connection between the gentrification of cities and the gentrification of ideas. In the process of actual gentrification one population is not merely displaced or replaced by another, but a homogenized population is substituted for a diverse one. The gentrification of ideas undergoes a similar process. Diverse ideas are replaced by homogenized ones that reflect dominant attitudes and perceptions held by the powerful -- in effect 'alienating people from a concr ...more
Caroline
How do I rate this book? Do I take away because I disagree with the author on many points, even if I understand and respect her anger and perspective? Do I give it 5 stars because it gave me so much to think (and talk) about? I have such conflicted feelings about this book. There are so many important messages, but there are just as many problematic messages. Perhaps more.

The strength and the weakness of this book is often how self-centered it is. The passion that drives Schulman's conviction a
...more
Colin
This is a really important, personal, thought-provoking book. I'm interested in the conversations this book could and should create. I do have some critiques; most importantly, I think Schulman fails to adequately address the depth and power of white supremacy in the process of gentrification. Instead she seems to equate the intention of white queers moving into neighborhoods that are predominately communities of color as either "good" (if you're a working white queer artist looking for variety) ...more
Sandy
The first half of this book is the best, most essential, everyone should read. About AIDS and gentrification, how they worked together to devastate communities. And about how the successes of gentrification have damaged our ability to imagine or produce social change. The second half is more about art and gentrification and that is basically less interesting to me, but she still says really smart and insightful things.
David
An amazing book - so glad it was recommended to me by someone I recently met. I must have wanted to read a book like this and just didn't know it had been written. It has helped me put so much in perspective re: the AIDS crisis, what it did to our culture and how exactly it changed society's landscape. There is very little in the book about the disease itself. The focus is on how the epidemic is largely seen as something that happened in the past - when it has not gone away and won't go away for ...more
Charles Rice-Gonzalez
Urgent, wonderful and a must-read. With Gentrification of the Mind Sarah Schulman continues to be a contemporary voice for our society and culture that builds on our past and offers options for a vibrant future. This book will open your mind. I've read it three times which is as many times as I've her previous book Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia. She continues to raise the bar for writers and delivers a powerful experience to readers.
Juliet
This book is just so amazing. It is rightfully angry, and it is shameless in its presentation of the argument around what gentrification has done to homogenise society. But Sarah schulman is spot on in her observations, and right to raise the concerns she does. As a feminist, I absolutely recognised her description of supremacy ideology and thanks to her extraordinary writing was well able to imagine how that had impacted on gays and lesbians, especially during and post the AIDS crisis.
Despite
...more
Rafe
This book is incredibly important both as a record of some of the unrecorded (and erased) costs of the AIDS crisis and as a reminder to younger activists. This is not academic writing, with distance and tact. This is spelled-out and clear-spoken. It will make you angry. It will make you cry.
Katie Brennan
Schulman's main argument seems to be that we physically and intellectually inhabit a graveyard that is rendered invisible by gentrification. We do not know ourselves because we are ignorant of those who came before us - "it leaves the replaced without context and the replacers with a distorted sense of self." Her most elaborated example of this is the East Village/Lower East Side, and the relationship of gentrification - of both physical space and of the mind - to queer communities and the AIDS ...more
Marcelo
This reading awakaned a desire to research pre-Aids literature, performance art of the late 80w, and ACT-UP. She is a bit Larry Kramer-like in her approach, and does make herself seem grandiose at times, but her comments on education need to be said. Kudos.
A
This is the most important book I've ever read.
Stephen Jenkins
In Schulman's elegantly written book she talks about how gentrification has worked in her lifetime especially in regards to the gay and art and communities. This is a brilliant book which gives the reader a glance into a strong mind. She restores some of the lost history and memory of the dead with clarity. This book has changed the way I think about authenticity and falsity. Schulman moves from actual neighborhood gentrification to examine gentrification of creating (Chapter 4), of gay politics ...more
Finn
i read the other reviews here on goodreads and mostly agree. there were points where i was happy to think about an issue in a totally new light and other moments where i really wish i'd been spared the author's asides that were really unnecessary to her argument and ultimately turn off readers. (last night a friend told me she started the book and couldn't finish because she was so fed up with the author's off the cuff opinions about how rural places are not a place where new ideas can flourish ...more
Peter Landau
The most disturbing revelation reading this important book is that the enemy is me. I'm the child of privileged New Yorkers who were part of the "white flight" in the ’70s, a sudden severing at a young age that caused an unrealistic attachment to the city that brought me back on my own to stake a claim in my youth and unintentionally partake in the gentrification of the ’80s which has gutted New York City of its creative capital and finds it today a homogeneous mall of senseless consumerism.

But
...more
Ocean
this book is phenomenally important. that's basically all i can say. it is a shimmering, shining work of brilliance. everyone needs to read it--but probably the only people who actually are invested enough to care are: queers, white politically aware folx who have lived in communities of color, writers, activists. but pretty much everyone on my friendslist is in at least one of those categories, right?
a lot of reviewers seem to be sharing their favorite quotes from this book in their reviews. he
...more
Su
This book has been sitting on my shelf for weeks. I dipped into it, quickly realized it was the kind of book that really wanted to be read slowly, with note-taking, responded to and argued with. But, being a student and a homeschooling mom, I never had time to give it the kind of reading I thought would do it justice. Today it is due at the library, and I've reached the limit on renewals. It had to be sent from another library elsewhere in the state, so I decided not to just return it and re-req ...more
Natalie
As a longtime New Orleans resident who has watched & continues to feel the impact of profound demographic shifts in my own community resulting in part from a disaster, Schulman's skillful contextualizing of the issue of inner-city gentrification & post-catastrophic impact on communities resonated profoundly with me. I think this a really excellent book to read for anyone struggling to articulate the many feelings that come with watching their immediate community be displaced, or whom has ...more
Maya Rock
There was so much going on here. I don't know if I can do it justice. She got so much eerily right to me. I remember coming to New York and uncovering this whole past of activism and people caring about equality that I felt had been deliberately obscured by the institutions I had gone through. I have felt I was in situations where art was Muzak and have definitely felt like most relationships, even the most (especially the most) intimate ones seem contrived to keep the "dominant" in power. Anywa ...more
Marcy
It has been far too long since I've read anything by Sarah Schulman. I won't make that mistake again. I have missed her voice that challenges me to think in new ways. She does that with her fiction, to be sure, but I really love her non-fiction work as well. This book was especially compelling because of the way she deals with gentrification--both the literal kind that alters our urban surroundings, but also the metaphorical kind that shapes the way we think about processes like gentrification, ...more
Sarah
This book is a pretty interesting memoir full of lots of personal anecdotes and stories. However, due to the more intellectual themes of this book (and the fact that the author seems to be trying to argue a point) I would have preferred there be more concrete and representative examples to support her claims. The information that she brings up and the arguments that she delves into are valuable, though could be supported better. The mix of intellectual/academic work with the memoir genre didn't ...more
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Sarah Schulman is a longtime AIDS and queer activist, and a cofounder of the MIX Festival and the ACT UP Oral History Project. She is a playwright and the author of seventeen books, including the novels The Mere Future, Shimmer, Rat Bohemia, After Delores, and People in Trouble, as well as nonfiction works such as The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, My American History: ...more
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