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"Why Zip Codes?" Virtual Roundtable

Public Humanities

dateFebruary 22, 2022 timeTuesday, 6:30pm–8:00pm EST locationVirtual Event
  • Zip Code Memory Project
email address [email protected]
  • Image Credit/Caption: Desiree Rios
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Several people marking a map of New York City with colorful markers

The US Postal Service introduced Zip Codes (Zone Improvement Plan) in the mid 1960s to speed up mail delivery by marking precise geographic locations.

But Zip Codes are also maps of brutal social inequalities affecting the lives and even the life expectancies of our communities.

Bringing together scholars and activists, this virtual roundtable will ask: How has the Zip Code legacy shaped our experience and understanding of the ongoing pandemic? Can thinking through Zip Code maps help us equalize access to healthcare, safety and well-being? Can Zip Codes be mobilized in activist pursuits of social justice?


Gregg Gonsalves, Epidemiology, Yale University
Bill Rankin, History of Science, Yale University
Jacqueline Wernimont, Digital Humanities and Social Engagement, Dartmouth College
Jia Zhang, Columbia University Center for Spatial Research

Moderator, Laura Kurgan, Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University and Director of the Center for Spatial Research

Convener, Laura Wexler, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and American Studies, Yale University and Acting Co-chair of the Public Humanities Program

The Zip Code Memory Project seeks to find reparative ways to memorialize the devastating losses resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic while also acknowledging its radically differential effects on Upper New York City neighborhoods. Working across the zip codes of Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx, we are gathering with local community, arts and academic organizations to imagine how the losses of the pandemic can be acknowledged, mourned, and healed, and how the mutual aid, care and repair they have occasioned can be honored.