PWR 2016 Featured Speaker - Michael R. Fisher, Jr.

Michael R. Fisher, Jr. is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethics and Society and a Theology and Practice Fellow in the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University. His research lies at the intersection of religion, ethics, and urban studies in the United States. Michael’s dissertation, titled “A City Set on a Hill: Race and the Secular Soteriology of Neoliberal Urban Redevelopment,” critiques the ideologies that drive processes of urban redevelopment within cities in the United States. It argues that the neoliberal ideology and discourse that undergird urban redevelopment are constitutive with racial ideology thereby reproducing structural racism and a racially stratified society through the social, political, and economic disenfranchisement of poor, black urban residents. This disenfranchisement, he argues, ultimately culminates in their spatial displacement. Using Washington, D.C. as a case study, Michael draws on his knowledge and experience as a community organizer, activist, public policy advocate and ordained clergyman to explore what public theology and an ethics of social solidarity bring to a critical analysis of neoliberal urban redevelopment that concretely aims toward the shaping of urban spaces that are more social, inclusive, and democratic.