My name is Michael Roman-John Koscielniak. You can call me Roman.
I am a PhD Candidate in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Michigan.
I study decline as a form of capitalist urbanization. Decline is an objective and feature of this system. This research takes me to the cities of the American industrial Midwest. I am completing my dissertation on the politics and economics of contemporary demolition efforts in Detroit, MI. Part of this work includes understanding how “blightocracy” structures public problems and narrows the range of possible interventions (down to demolition, system-maintenance, race-blind policies, depoliticized expertise, and profit-maximization). Dirt is also involved. I argue for a politicized view of decline and a refreshed take on the politics of demolition. Broadly speaking, I engage with the themes of power, austerity, and property. I am interested in how late-capitalist public policy flanks the FIRE economy (and fringe economy) to wreck cities for profit. I conduct this research in a variety of ways, some more fun than others. I am not a “Detroit scholar.” I am motivated by broader questions about scales/structures/political-economies producing decline in both growing and struggling places.
I completed my undergrad studies in 2008 at the University of Missouri-Columbia where I authored a thesis on radical political movements against austerity and decline. I completed my masters at Washington University in St Louis in 2011 where I parked myself at the intersection of urban policy and urban design, specifically making sense of demolition practice in St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL. I have worked professionally on a variety of demolition, housing, and planning projects across the United States. I have been at the University of Michigan since 2013.
I anticipate finishing my dissertation in January 2019. I will be seeking a tenure-track or postdoctoral research position in the United States within geography, urban studies, or planning. I am available for guest lectures on decline, austerity, demolition, Rust Belt political-economy, and urbanization. I have identified a tentative post-graduation research agenda interrogating the relationship between the urban “fringe economy” (Alternative Financial Services) and decline-as-urbanization.
I have a CV available upon request. Ask me for it if you’re interested in what I’m working on these days (maybe you can help me through it).
Odds & Ends
I have a cat. She lives in Rhode Island.
I am a strong supporter of labor and my graduate student union: GEO
I have an unreasonable obsession with hats and sunglasses.
Email me: mkosciel(at)umich.edu