Why Detroit Matters: the story of Detroit in ten buildings


Friday, 10 April
3 to 5 pm
in Sid Smith 2125

Detroit has been regularly in the news for several years. It is the most intensely scrutinised city in America today. We all know about its bankruptcy, abandonment, arson and the small-scale creative revival of Downtown. But there is so much more to understanding what has happened to Detroit and what it means for the rest of the urban world. The aim of this talk is to go beyond the normal discourses on the city to challenge what we think we know about Detroit.

Three key themes will underpin this presentation. First, understanding the history of Detroit. Second, examining the geography of its so-called ‘renaissance.’ And third, placing Detroit, a city of 700,000 inhabitants into the wider context of Southeast Michigan, a region of over 4,3 million people.

We will experience the Motor City by way of a virtual driving tour, stopping at ten buildings in the city and its suburbs to further explore the lessons from Detroit, visions coming out of the city and why what happens in Detroit matters for other places as well.


Brian Doucet (1980) is an Assistant Professor of Urban Geography at Utrecht University. He is originally from Toronto, but has lived in the Netherlands since 2004. He obtained his PhD from Utrecht in 2010. His teaching and research covers a broad range of topics within urban geography. His writings on Detroit have featured in The Guardian, The NRC Handelsblad (NL), The Detroit News, the UK’s Town and Country Planning Magazine as well as other academic and professional journals. He is the editor of a forthcoming book Why Detroit Matters, which brings together some of Detroit’s leading scholars, planners, writers, artists and visionaries. Doucet also teaches a Master’s course on North American cities which culminates in a field trip to Toronto and Detroit.

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