Portland, Oregon, is one of the most beautiful, livable cities in the United States. It has walkable neighborhoods, bike lanes, low-density housing, public transportation, and significant green space -- not to mention craft-beer bars and locavore food trucks. But liberal Portland is also the whitest city in the country. This is not circumstance; the city has a long historyPortland, Oregon, is one of the most beautiful, livable cities in the United States. It has walkable neighborhoods, bike lanes, low-density housing, public transportation, and significant green space -- not to mention craft-beer bars and locavore food trucks. But liberal Portland is also the whitest city in the country. This is not circumstance; the city has a long history of officially sanctioned racialized displacement that continues today.Over the last two and half decades, Albina -- the one major Black neighborhood in Portland -- has been systematically uprooted by market-driven gentrification and city-renewal policies. African Americans in Portland were first pushed into Albina and then contained there through exclusionary zoning, predatory lending, and racist real estate practices. Since the 1990s, they've been aggressively displaced -- by rising housing costs, developers eager to get rid of low-income residents, and overt city policies of gentrification.Displacement and dispossessions are convulsing cities across the globe, becoming the dominant urban narratives of our time. In What a City Is For, Matt Hern uses the case of Albina, as well as similar instances in New Orleans and Vancouver, to investigate gentrification in the twenty-first century. In an engaging narrative, effortlessly mixing anecdote and theory, Hern questions the notions of development, private property, and ownership. Arguing that home ownership drives inequality, he wants us to disown ownership. How can we reimagine the city as a post-ownership, post-sovereign space? Drawing on solidarity economics, cooperative movements, community land trusts, indigenous conceptions of alternative sovereignty, the global commons movement, and much else, Hern suggests repudiating development in favor of an incrementalist, non-market-driven unfolding of the city."...
|Title||:||What a City Is for: Remaking the Politics of Displacement|
|Number of Pages||:||272 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
What a City Is for: Remaking the Politics of Displacement Reviews
First off, Matt Hern is one of my teachers. I'll try to give an objective review, but his voice and text are so intertwined for me it may be hard, and undesirable.Hern writes exactly as he sounds. I have a communist friend who would always ask me to review his essays. They always sounded like a protestor in the streets. You could feel his anger. Hern's writing style is similar, in that it feels like speech notes than a text.There are many things I admire about him, which I also see in his book. He is never afraid to call people out on things and he is sincerely focused on finding solutions. I remember writing an essay for class and I provided a critique of gentrification. He asked me for a solution. When I said that the only solution is the fall of capitalism (no solution), he gave me a smile. Now I know why. He hates that answer.He is the only writer I've come across that acknowledges the indigenous lands in which he writes. Full respect for that.His overwhelming use of citations added many more books to my to read list and they added some good personality to the text.His thoughts on a land tax and sovereignty I found interesting. His ideas of polycentric identities to combat sovereignty I found convincing.Over all, if you are looking for a writer who is thinking about solutions in terms of gentrification, I would greatly recommend this book.
I can echo other readers criticisms about jargon and academic language, but the philosophical scope of this book is what made it for me. The argument this book asserts is that we need to unpack complicated terms like property and sovereignty in order to "remake" the politics of displacement (at least to avoid the trappings of colonial logic in our activism), but that there is such an available wealth of tactics and wisdom from threatened communities and thinkers that we need not look for one perfect path. Kind of a "move forward on all fronts" but one that puts the focus on what power can be exerted within a city. There could have been an edit for clarity towards the end, as Hern is rather tragically attached to dense sentences, but I have a lot of respect for academic writing that focuses on connectivity between theories. I came to Hern from Bookchin (though Hern works and lives in my city) and I would say that while Bookchin can articulate a more clear argument against state power and a single vision for municipal politics (if that was what you were looking for here), what's missing is the available room for incorporating, and listening to Indigenous, racialized, and other displaced voices in that vision. Hern makes it very clear he has no dogma to spout, but he still does a lot of valuable work taking the ideas of postcolonialism, critical theory, and social ecology and pointing to the ways in which people living in cities are already putting those ideas into practice (and were long before the academic theory existed). Read this if you want to worm your way from micro to macro and won't be too hindered by four-syllable hedging around complex academic theories.
Strong thesis and evidence, but it was a bit disorganized.
This was more theoretical and less practical than I thought it was going to be. By the ending chapters I thought it was a little in-the-weeds for a general audience. For a take on a similar subject I'd recommend someone read How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood and then tackle this.
To overgeneralize, the book gradually descends from granular, conceptual and historical analysis into a hell of jargon and inside-baseball references and arguments. This general reader skimmed through about half the book. Still, the main point, as I understood it, that city governments need to be more assertive in creating and supporting new forms of land ownership that are less based on private ownership and more on collective, basic human needs of housing was well-argued. Too, that dispossession precedes all possession, and acknowledging and looking into reparations to indigenous people is a necessary first step. There were a few interesting bits about my city, Portland, but there are better books to learn about Albina and Vancouver (not that the author was asserting otherwise).Finally, the editor should have cut many of the footnotes; the author doesn't need to be a character in this kind of book.
307.76 H5571 2016
ht danya Sherman
Hern argues that a city is a perfect structure for remaking the concept of land not as "owned" but as "disowned" and intimately connected to freedom. Pushing for increased incidences of community land trusts, co-ops, land value taxes, and even squatting, he attempts to reimagine how displacement and dispossession can be reversed in the context of the global capital ownership model. Warning: not for the lazy reader. Lots of theoretical and philosophical jargon here. But, the gist of the argument can be grasped with focused concentration, and the challenging arguments are worth the effort.
Felt like a bit of a mess, but the second half of this book is brimming with ideas to do in your own neighborhood.