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Detroit Is No Dry Bones

The Eternal City of the Industrial Age
Camilo José Vergara
A photographic record of almost three decades of Detroit’s changing urban fabric


Over the past 25 years, award-winning ethnographer and photographer Camilo José Vergara has traveled annually to Detroit to document not only the city’s precipitous decline but also how its residents have survived. From the 1970s through the 1990s, changes in Detroit were almost all for the worse, as the built fabric of the city was erased through neglect and abandonment. But over the last decade Detroit has seen the beginnings of a positive transformation, and the photography in Detroit Is No Dry Bones provides unique documentation of the revival and its urbanistic possibilities. Beyond the fate of the city’s buildings themselves, Vergara’s camera has consistently sought to capture the lives of Detroit’s people. Not only has he shown the impact of depopulation, disinvestment, and abandonment during the worst years of the urban crisis, but he has also shown Detroiters’ resilience. The photographs in this book are organized in part around the way people have re-used and re-purposed structures from the past. Vergara is unique in his documentation of local churches that have re-occupied old bank buildings and other impressive structures from the past and turned them into something unexpectedly powerful architecturally as well as spiritually.

“Vergara is especially alert to changes in the urban landscape . . . perhaps more people will take a second, closer look at the wealth of native folk art we have all over town. And Vergara deserves thanks for recording them and offering a serious critical appraisal.”
Detroit Metro Times

Camilo José Vergara was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2002 and received a Berlin Prize Fellowship in 2010. In 2013, he became the first photographer to be awarded the National Humanities Medal. He is author of numerous books, including Silent Cities: The Evolution of the American Cemetery; The New American Ghetto; and Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto.

Praise / Awards

  • "The photos are obviously the bulk of the book, and Vergara is a talented visual storyteller, but the book also features chapters that give the images context. Interviews with locals and stories about the way old buildings have been repurposed offer hints about Detroit’s revival. Detroit is No Dry Bones not only depicts the past and present but also considers the city’s future."
    --Foreword Reviews

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: Excerpt of Detroit is No Dry Bones featured on Metropolis Link | 4/24/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in L'Oeil de la Photographie Link | 3/6/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in Archidose Link | 2/28/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in The Michigan Daily Link | 2/15/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in Deadline Detroit Link | 1/26/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in Detroit Metro Times Link | 1/25/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in Detroit News Link | 1/25/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in Archinect Link | 1/17/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in the LA Times Link | 1/15/2017
Read: Camilo Vergara in the Detroit Metro Times Link | 11/23/2016
Read: Camilo Vergara in the Daily Mail Link | 11/13/2016
Read: Camilo Vergara in the Huffington Post Link | 9/12/2016
Read: Camilo Vergara in The Nation Link | 7/6/2016
Read: Camilo Vergara in the Huffington Post Link | 4/7/2016
Read: Camilo Vergara in the LA Times Link | 4/3/2016

Product Details

  • 11 x 9.
  • 304pp.
  • 310 color photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2016
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-13011-5

Add to Cart
  • $55.00 U.S.


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