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Undergraduate students at the City University of New York navigate multiply occupied places as they attend college on the urban campuses of this commuter institution. CUNY students often negotiate competing diversions from their scholarly experiences, including family obligations and job responsibilities, that constrain them both temporally and financially. Additionally, space considerations at home, school, and the commute influence and shape student activities and opportunities. In this paper we examine how college students interact with school spaces, from where they store their books to where they study and write their papers, and to what degree they succeed at constituting these areas as meaningful places. Drawing on interview and visual data collected in an ethnographic study of the scholarly habits of CUNY students, we will explore how undergraduates navigate and create their own significant spaces, and the effects on their engagement with their college experience.


This work was originally presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, Montreal.



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