Redefining the city and demolishing the rest

This paper examines the techno-environmental urban policy that emerged in Cleveland, Ohio following the financial crisis, consisting primarily of mass demolition and greening programs, we argue this techno-green fix is an urban redevelopment strategy in shrinking cities that reshapes these places into manageable islands of urban development. Demolition and green reuse accelerated displacement without gentrification in long established low-income communities of color while reinforcing the racial hierarchies in US property markets. We demonstrate how the unevenness of the demolition program mirrors earlier racialized practices while adopting the rhetoric and strategy of “smart shrinkage.” We show that behind its neutral and scientific ambition, this strategy targets the most disadvantaged areas of the inner city. The market rational of these programs reproduces old patterns of racial segregation in the city. Finally, we show that the “green” dimension of this strategy is highly ambivalent. If “greening” is publicly presented as a means to benefit marginalized areas and residents, it is also used as a way to transfer the maintenance of urban services to poor residents on the city’s east side, to erase urban spaces, and to foster market dynamics.

Akers. J., Béal V., Rousseau M. (2019), “Redefining the city and demolishing the rest: The techno-green fix in postcrash Cleveland (Ohio)“, Environment and Planning E, In Press.


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