About the Project
Invisible in Austin is an examination of the lived experiences of social suffering in Austin, Texas – a thriving, rapidly-growing, highly unequal, and segregated technopolis.
Born out of a graduate seminar at the University of Texas, twelve graduate students—inspired and sometimes disturbed by the academic work on poverty in the Americas—set forth to create something different. We initially called ourselves the “OSA group”, referencing our interest in the “other side of Austin.”
What is ‘The Other Side of Austin’? Even in a surface reading of local newspapers, online local news sources, or monthly magazines one cannot fail to notice a set of parallel (though hardly contradictory) images and trends. Glowing descriptions of a fast growing city, a city for the “young and creative,” a “cool” place to live and raise a family, and a city of internationally famous events like SXSW and Formula 1, compete with (more or less concerned, depending on political orientations) portrayals of increasing socio-economic inequality and residential class, racial, and ethnic segregation. New exclusive areas of prosperity emerge, while deprivation forces others to the edges, the crevices, or, as we intuitively put it early in our meetings, “the other side” of town.
This collective enterprise was not the product of a clearly defined research project, but what we came to see as an intellectual adventure. We read extensively, brainstormed over potluck dinners and started to get to know the people that would become the inspiration for each chapter.