Rachel Weber Lecture — The Urban Oracular: Prediction and Speculation in Real Estate

Date / Time

February 17, 2022

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Rachel Weber, Urban Planning and Policy
2021-2022 Institute Faculty Fellow Lecture

Thursday, February 17 at 4 p.m.
Room 302 SCE, 750 South Halsted, UIC, and via Zoom

In this talk, I discuss the significance of forecasting models to capital investment in contemporary built environments. Based on several years of textual and ethnographic research, I argue that forecasting practices neither accurately represent the future nor effectively reveal to investors those opportunities with the most potential for profit. Instead, forecasts are essential instruments of real estate finance because they help create and fortify the collective subjectivities and shared imaginaries necessary for speculators to mimic each other’s behavior and relate to each other through the simultaneity of time and place.

Rachel Weber is professor and director of graduate studies in the urban planning and policy department at the University of Illinois Chicago, where she teaches courses and conducts research in the fields of economic development, real estate, urban politics, and public finance.  She is the co-editor of the “Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning,” a compilation of 40 essays by leading urban scholars. Her latest book, “From Boom to Bubble: How Finance Built the New Chicago” (University of Chicago Press), won the Best Book Award from the Urban Affairs Association in 2017. She is the author of over 45 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as numerous book chapters and published reports. In addition to her academic responsibilities, she has served as an adviser to planning agencies, political candidates, and community organizations on issues related to financial incentives, property taxes, and neighborhood change. She was appointed to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s Urban Policy Committee in 2008 and by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force in 2011.


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