The 2019 HOTCUS article prize was awarded to Daniel Matlin (KCL) for his article ‘“A New Reality of Harlem”: Imagining the African American Urban Future during the 1960s’ which was published in the Journal of American Studies. In awarding the prize, the committee provided the following citation:
In this methodologically innovative and beautifully written article, Daniel Matlin explores how, during the black freedom struggles of the 1960s, hopes for a post-segregation future led activists, intellectuals and architects to re-imagine the built environment in Harlem, America’s ‘race capital’. Matlin demonstrates that the divergent perspectives of Harlem as embodying either the confinement of black Americans within a socio-economic ghetto or the creative promise of black urban culture both found expression in new architectural manifestoes: was Harlem so pathological that it had to be destroyed and built anew, or could it be renewed through investments in its existing streets and public spaces which would enhance its integrity as a living African American community? Matlin is attentive throughout to the manner in which ideas about race, gender, history, poverty, local democracy, social policy and urbanism intersected to influence these competing visions of the future Harlem. His article is a brilliantly sophisticated study that encourages its readers to think in broader terms about how integrationist and black nationalist political programmes were imagined in the 1960s and to reflect on the other ways in which the ‘spatial’ turn might illuminate histories of race in America.