Denise Milstein’s work develops a relational, historically grounded perspective at the intersection of art and politics, and culture and the environment. She has written on the articulation of urban imaginaries through music, the impact of repression on artistic careers, political engagement and counter-culture, and artistic innovation. Concerns with environmental sustainability, collaboration across disciplines, and participatory action research have become central to her most recent work. Current projects examine urban dwellers’ access to nature in New York City public spaces; the interactions of artists and archivists with near-obsolete technologies in marginal spaces of cultural production and reproduction; and building a narrative and oral history archive of New Yorkers’ experiences with the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a member of the Ensayos collective, based in Tierra del Fuego, where she contributes as a researcher, writer, and performer to practices interweaving art, social science, and environmental research. She is most interested in how the structural limitations of political and environmental crises give rise to innovation, cultural shifts, and social change.
She directs the stand-alone MA Program in Sociology at Columbia University; is co-director of the NYC COVID-19 Oral History, Narrative and Memory Archive; and edits Dispatches from the Field, a series dedicated to publishing collections of ethnographic data fresh from the field. She is affiliated with INCITE and the Institute for Latin American Studies at Columbia.