Michelle Chen

Michelle Chen is editor of CultureStrike Magazine.

Boxed Voices

Voices from UK Detention Centers
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Most of us hear and see only cursory mentions of "immigrant detention" on the news--it's a clinical label, scrubbed of all the visceral emotion and social tension that constricts detained migrants just as forcefully as their cell walls do. Last year we saw flashes of the migrant detention crisis with images of kids huddled under blankets, exhausted from trekking across the continent, and of European asylum seekers thronging against metal gates and braving giant plumes of tear gas.

The Insurgent Language of Cities

Jane Jacobs knew where people, not property rule
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This week marks the 100th birthday of one of the iconic thinkers of the American city, Jane Jacobs. Back in the 1960s and 70s, before words like "gentrification" had been popularized, the "development' of cities was spreading a deep malaise to which urban denizens like Jacobs bore witness: whole neighborhoods were being uprooted and displaced, and "slum clearance" and "urban renewal" (aka Black Removal) was being deployed by municipal planners and real estate moguls to essentially atomize and liquidate the population of the unwanted masses.

A Guilty System

Two Mothers, Two Lives Cross in Pursuit of Justice
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The Black Lives Matter movement in New York City has lit a fire underneath a longstanding struggle against police violence. The criminalization of the lives of people of color is etched into the cityscape, imprinted in the shadows that haunt the cavernous towers of the projects. The city's neighborhoods are constantly walking a taut tightrope between security and terror, and the two so easily shade into each other when the halogen lights glow too dimly, and in a desolate corner of Pink Houses, visions are clouded by fear. And the tightrope snaps. Bang.

The Art of Resistance

The Spectacular Politics of Protest at the Guggenheim
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April 28, 2016

Abu Dhabi, a glamorous outpost of one of the world's greatest oil empires--is facing the classic dilemma of the nouveau riche: too much wealth, not enough class. But that can be easily corrected with a little strategic neoliberal development aimed at fast-tracking the Middle Eastern vassal state onto the cultural vanguard.

The City of Angels has Two Faces

Ramiro Gomez depicts the underside of the Sunset Strip
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When you look at David Hockney’s paintings of suburban Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s, you see glamor turned at a clever angle in the unforgiving sun, to mask the subsurface decay. It’s plastic surgery gone slightly wrong, the jagged lines clean and dirty at once. Pastel stucco walls hint at smudges of cheap lipstick and shattered plexiglass--the stuff that gets swept under the rug, literally and figuratively.

The Migrant Bard

Exile in Shakespeare's time
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​All the world might have been a stage to him, but Shakespeare's globe was also fraught with borders. Centuries ago, the bard who channeled the voice of the exile was moved to air a defense of the refugee. A new exhibition at the British library has revealed a previously undiscovered 400 year-old script, apparently penned by the playwright himself, for a unique group-authored play, The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore.

Matt Huynh Inks Stories of an Inherited War

A graphic novelist wades into today's refugee debate
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Matt Huynh has a way of drawing outside the lines, having crossed many of them over the course of his life. As an artist who regularly intertwines his graphic work with poetic and fictive narratives, he has inked everything from fashion magazine spreads to the cover of the short-lived Occupied Wall Street Journal. But one of his most ambitious works explores borders within, through the collective memory of Australia’s Vietnamese diaspora.

It's a Dirty Job, but There's an App for That

New York's Day Laborers Build a Network for Justice
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From putting up dry wall to cleaning out storm debris, the day laborers of New York do some of the city's roughest, dirtiest jobs, and often work for dirt cheap, sometimes for nothing at all. Their highly marginal jobs and lack of stable employment makes them extremely vulnerable to getting cheated, and since many work informally, do not have papers, or suffer from languge barriers, they typically have little legal recourse. But even the hardest manual labor can benefit from digital innovation.


A Message from Favianna Rodriguez

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