In an era of globalization, it is perhaps not surprising that displacement has become normalized. The Call for Papers for this volume of the Berkeley Planning Journal referenced the United Nations estimate of 65 million refugees globally, a staggering total that does not even include the internal displacement totals of the most affluent countries in the world. Many heroic efforts have emerged to assist refugees from nation-states, as well as victims of the affordable housing crises of advanced capitalism. Yet, there seems to be little movement towards addressing the root causes of displacement, or even taking preventive action to stabilize communities.Read More
In this article, we trace the emergence of the false YIMBY/NIMBY dialectic now dominant in San Francisco housing rights discourse, studying its constitution and material effects. Specifically, we investigate how racial capitalism is constitutive of both YIMBYism and NIMBYism, drawing upon Cedric Robinson’s argument that racialization has always been constitutive of capitalism, and racism is requisite for capitalism’s endurance. We make our argument by drawing upon empirical research conducted by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), a data analysis, oral history, and critical cartography collective of which we are both a part. We also draw upon collaborative research between AEMP and community-based housing rights nonprofits and local housing justice organizing efforts, as well as literary and cultural analysis. Such a methodological approach facilitates the unearthing of the racial logics undergirding YIMBYism, pointing to the need for alternative analytics to theorize and mobilize against heightened forms of racialized dispossession. We begin by outlining San Francisco’s YIMBY and NIMBY genealogies, and then proceed to unravel the basic statistical logic underpinning YIMBYism. In doing so, we introduce an additional analytic that we argue is requisite for deconstructing YIMBY algorithms: aesthetic desires of wealthy newcomers. We suggest that the YIMBY “build, baby, build” housing solution fails when architectural and neighborhood fantasies are taken into account. We then study how racialized surveillance informs not only the NIMBY but also the YIMBY gaze, arguing that both camps are ultimately tethered to racial capitalism’s liberal legacies.Read More
Across South Asia, women migrate for employment within their home countries, within the region, and to more distant destination countries. Despite regular and ongoing transit, they are subject to restrictions on their mobility. How do migrant women workers confront and resist these restrictions? This question calls for an analytical approach that considers both the nature of the restrictive forces they confront and the resistance strategies they bring to bear. Scholarship on governmentality traces how nation states, as sovereigns, deploy a dual system of thought and management to exert control over populations and the nations they inhabit. Gendered migration governance at the legal and policy level maps one of many forces that restrict women’s mobility across the region. Within South Asia, social control over women is informed by not only legal, but also political, cultural, and ideological discourses that are anchored in patriarchal social systems. Women workers migrate through varied “borderscapes,” landscapes traversed by competing discourses and practices that seek to define parameters of mobility (Rajaram and Grundy-Warr 2007). Based on fieldwork conducted between October 2015 and July 2016, this paper considers how local, national, and regional networks of migrant women in South Asia circumvent restrictive policies and resist patriarchal binaries. Examining their modes of resistance, this study lends critical insight into how gendered technologies of power are experienced and unmade.Read More
This article addresses one of the biggest tests of our society: the urban displacement and racial injustice crisis. Today’s urban displacement crisis has reached a social change tipping point, but most solutions being advanced fail to prevent immediate displacement. This article debunks the prevailing strategies focused on building more market rate or affordable housing units as being able to effectively prevent displacement. It examines the impacts of urban displacement on the collective self-interest to advance climate change and racial equity. Lastly, the article provides an alternative vision for a paradigm shift based upon an understanding that housing is essential to public goods like clean air, clean water, and K-12 education. California and Oakland, California are used as case studies since they are the epicenter of the national housing unaffordability crisis and because of the authors’ work as policy change practitioners designing and implementing anti-displacement solutions in these communities.Read More
Previous research into the costs of publicly subsidized new housing developments has found that nonprofit developers and program requirements to pay construction workers prevailing wages significantly raise project costs. An extended ordinary least squares (OLS) model is specified that aims to better capture the influence of project-specific variable costs and geographically correlated fixed costs. The model is tested with data from a 2014 State of California-sponsored affordable housing cost study. The OLS models’ estimates indicate that prevailing wages are associated with between 5 to 7% higher project costs. The cost effect associated with a developer’s tax exempt status is half as large as estimated in prior studies and is not consistently a statistically significant driver of costs. The model revisions help to identify other more important sources of cost variation, including large business cycle effects, fair market rents, average county construction wages, local government impact fees, and above-average architecture and engineering costs.Read More
In this exploratory piece, I present a case study of the complex machinations of one community in Bangkok in their 13-year struggle to stay on their land. I ask how legal rights, rights talk, and political maneuvering figure into their strategies, as well as how their involvement with a larger social movement has shaped their efforts. The non-traditional form of the piece allows me to walk step-by-step through the community and the processes at play while considering multiple framings that may help us better understand the community’s situation.Read More
This collection of essays by prominent African scholars centers familiar themes of continuity and emergence, as well as rupture and disruption, but filters them through new light. To think of African futures here is to engage with the diverse contexts through which these accounts reimagine visions of futurity and connections to the past—from the macro scale of urban construction in Kinshasa to the micro dynamics of a prayer meeting breaking up—and to view their interconnections. Drawing from new material and earlier pieces of Africanist scholarship on crisis and change by these scholars, the contributions in this collection are grouped thematically and speak to one another through a framework, which describes the construction, imagination, and deconstruction of temporality and, in particular, futurity in Africa. The editors, Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio, offer a textured introduction and foreground the collection as a relational reflection on the “motley ensemble of verdicts and diagnoses” proffered by previous writing on African contexts (1). The volume thus avoids the binary of despair and triumph in representations of the continent, and provides a valuable addition to scholarship on temporality in relation to refiguring Africa’s futures. As the editors write, the volume aims “not so much to iron out the contradictions nor to disprove the verdicts (though such disproving will at times be necessary) as to think within the paradoxes, perplexities, and apparent certitudes Africa is taken to insinuate” (3).Read More
In The Color of Law (2017), Richard Rothstein takes what once was a familiar narrative of racial segregation in America and turns it decisively on its head.
With bountiful evidence and rigorous detail, Rothstein rejects the prevailing view, upheld to this day by the Supreme Court, that individual decisions create a natural geography of de facto racial segregation in our cities, and argues instead that our government at all levels abetted and sponsored what is in fact de jure segregation. This is the heart of The Color of Law. According to Rothstein, the government has systematically violated the rights it created in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Bill of Rights for black Americans, and his book is essentially a treatise that methodically uncovers this narrative of history.
Each chapter of the book presents a careful yet forceful analysis of historical data, records, and events that uncover this de jure segregation across all facets of our cities. Rothstein demonstrates how public housing, zoning, insurance policies, taxation, labor unions, and police forces all developed and executed racially targeted policies and practices that created widespread discrimination and inequality at the hands of the government.Read More