Kimberley Kinder is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning. Dr. Kinder has degrees in geography, architecture, urban design, and environmental policy. She received her MSc in Geography from the University of Oxford and her PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the social, cultural, and political aspects of urban landscapes. She is the author of two books on the subject and has a third book project under development.
Kinder’s most recent book, DIY Detroit: Making Do in a City without Services (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), explores how residents in Detroit cope with market disinvestment and government contraction by taking charge of abandoned landscapes. Residents sweep public streets, board empty buildings, mow vacant lots, and maintain city parks. They use landscape props to promote neighborhood safety, street-level photographs to advance community interests, and murals and gardens to create landscapes of hope. With the City of Detroit significantly weakened by longstanding fiscal crises, these self-provisioned, spatial interventions are crucial in resident efforts to stabilize blocks and exert social control over their neighborhoods.
Kinder’s first book, The Politics of Urban Water: Changing Waterscapes in Amsterdam (University of Georgia Press, 2015), explores how active residents in Amsterdam deploy waterscapes when rallying around a variety of political concerns. Redeveloped waterfronts are trademark landscapes in many post-industrial cities, and the market logics underlying these investments often dominate scholarly and media debates. However, in Amsterdam, squatters, queers, artists, historians, environmentalists, climatologists, tourists, reporters, and cabinet officials also bring waterscapes to life. Their interventions pull water in new directions, connecting it to political discussions about affordable housing, cultural tolerance, climate change, and national identity. These practices pluralize water as a political actor, bringing rich undercurrents of friction to urban shores.
Kinder’s current research project Infrastructures of Dissent: Place, Text, and Activism in Radical Indie-Bookselling – explores the spatial dimensions of social activism. Across the country, people are mobilizing to defend progressive political ideals, but activism is not evenly distributed. Like flows of capital and chains of migration, activism gets structured into geographic circuits with pathways and hotspots. This project explores how people route social activism in and out of the built environment. Using examples from progressive bookstores, infoshops, and publishing collectives, Kinder analyzes the material, territorial, and symbolic strategies people use to convert retail environments into resources for political engagement. The analysis emphasizes place-making as an activist technique transforming everyday spaces into transformational spaces for empowerment and dissent.