Jana Cephas explores issues of spatial justice by studying the relationships between urban landscapes, emergent technologies, and new subjectivities. Her research seeks to recover the latent and as of yet invisible knowledges transmitted through both critical and ordinary spatial practices—knowledges that may have been left unwritten in texts but can be read through the bodies and buildings of urban environments. Planning the Industrial City: Detroit and the Aesthetics of Fordism (publication pending), concerns the agonism structuring Fordism and urbanization in early twentieth-century Detroit, which she analyzes by examining metaphors associating working (class) bodies, modern buildings, and efficient machines. Jana’s latest research project addresses the knowledge transfer occurring between visionary architects and social activists in the efforts to create cooperative housing in New York City.
Jana holds an M.Arch. from the University of Detroit Mercy and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Prior to Harvard, Jana was a Design + Research Fellow at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center where she designed and managed building projects for low-income communities. She has served as the Editorial Director for Positions: On Modern Architecture + Urbanism / Histories + Theories and was the 2011 Critical Studies Fellow at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Jana’s recent publications include “Agricultural Urbanism in Detroit,” which examines the changing meaning of urbanism in the after city, and “Citing Sites,” an essay exploring the parallel construction of the biographical narrative and the life histories of cities. Jana’s urban design work builds upon these themes by integrating scholarship and practice to produce innovative and lively urban spaces, such as the St. Joseph Rebuild Center, a disaster recovery center in New Orleans that was awarded a 2009 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence and the 2009 NCARB Prize for the Creative Integration of Practice and Education.