ferry between Windsor and DetroitHow did parish neighbourhoods mapped by the Roman Catholic Church shape the history of Detroit? An urban planning student from the University of Michigan will consider the topic in a lecture Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Lecture to look at Detroit history through lens of Catholic Church

A research presentation Feb. 8 will reinterpret the history of Detroit by examining a powerful institution that planned the city around neighbourhoods, but has nevertheless been neglected by urban studies: the Roman Catholic Church.

Using archival, oral history, and historical mapping methodologies, Christine Hwang — a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan — will demonstrate how Catholic parish neighbourhoods paradoxically served both as places of refuge for European Catholic immigrants against a hostile Protestant national landscape and as tools for excluding Black migrants arriving from heavily-Protestant regions of the American South.

By considering the church as an urban planning entity, Hwang explores how both religion and race shaped Detroit and how some neighbourhoods, by bridging outwards in an era of turbulent social unrest and decline, hoped for, imagined, and, in some cases, built alternative futures. 

Entitled “The Unbounded Parish: The Catholic Church and Mapping Paradoxical Space in Twentieth-Century Detroit,” the presentation is part of the history department’s Detroit River Region Research Group Speaker Series. UWindsor history major Lily Zitko will host the event on Microsoft Teams beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8.

To receive the link to attend, email history professor Guillaume Teasdale at gteasdal@uwindsor.ca.