Kimberley Kinder is an Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and the Faculty Director for the Healthy Cities Certificate Program. Her research focuses on the social, cultural, and political aspects of urban landscapes.
Kinder is the author of three books. Her most recent book, The Radical Bookstore: Counterspace for Social Movements (University of Minnesota Press, 2021), explores how activists use spatial agency for organizing. Activists need autonomous space for organizing, and these spaces are made, not found. In this book, Kinder uses examples from radical bookstores and infoshops to analyze the constructive aspects of contentious placemaking. She asks how and why activists insert hubs of contentious politics into everyday landscapes of dissent. These durable hubs are not one-off demonstration sites. Instead, they persist 365 days a year between the spikes of public protest.
Her previous 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 long-standing 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 various 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.
Kinder is currently working on a fourth book on the cultural geography of “Invisible Exile”. Kinder coined this term to describe the experiences of people who—due to non-conforming gender identities, political beliefs, and personal convictions—are living as refugees from their communities of origin, but whose exile status is largely unrecognized because their journeys do not involve an international border. By analyzing the travel writing surrounding these experiences, Kinder is analyzing the spatial topography of invisible exile currently operating across the United States.
Concurrently, Kinder is developing another research project exploring urban waterfronts from a health equity perspective. Using Detroit’s Riverfront as an example, this research project asks residents—especially residents whose perspectives are often overlooked in other real estate contexts—how the wholistic redevelopment of Detroit’s riverfront affects their wellbeing.
Kinder has a Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Urban Design from Carnegie Mellon University, a Master of Science in Geography from the University of Oxford, and her PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley.