September 1, 2015

Sylvie Tissot

Harvard Book Store welcomes sociologist and feminist activist SYLVIE TISSOT and Boston historian JIM VRABEL for a discussion of Tissot's book Good Neighbors: Gentrifying Diversity in Boston's South End.


Does gentrification destroy diversity? Or does it thrive on it? Boston’s South End, a legendary working-class neighborhood with the largest Victorian brick row house district in the United States and a celebrated reputation for diversity, has become in recent years a flashpoint for the problems of gentrification. It has born witness to the kind of rapid transformation leading to pitched battles over the class and race politics throughout the country and indeed the contemporary world.

This subtle study of a storied urban neighborhood reveals the way that upper-middle-class newcomers have positioned themselves as champions of diversity, and how their mobilization around this key concept has reordered class divisions rather than abolished them.

About Author(s)

Sylvie Tissot (born in 1971) is a French sociologist and feminist activist. She teaches political science at the Université de Vincennes-Saint Denis-Paris VIII. Her research focuses on urban transformations in French and American cities. She co-founded the popular website Les Mots sont Importants with Pierre Tévanian.

Jim Vrabel is a former newspaper reporter and municipal official, a longtime community activist, and a Boston historian. He was a founder of the Back of the Hill Community Development Corporation on Mission Hill and of the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School in Hyde Park, and he served as assistant director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, executive assistant to the Boston School Committee, and senior research associate and editor at the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Vrabel is the author of When in Boston: A Timeline & Almanac and of Homage to Henry: A Dramatization of John Berryman's "The Dream Songs."