Do Maps Make Geography? Part 2: Post-Katrina New Orleans, Post-Foreclosure Cleveland and Neoliberal Urbanism
AbstractA map indicating declining or shrinking neighborhoods may lead to the withholding of not only city services, but also mortgage loans. Maps used in these strategies have a performative function: they are either used to prescribe decline or they have the effect of furthering decline by marking neighborhoods as places “where houses have little or no value”, that are “dying”, “to be depopulated” or “distressed”. In addition to the two cases discussed in the first part of this paper, this second part discusses, first, the post-Katrina planning and rebuilding of New Orleans and how these processes are imagined in maps, and second, mortgage foreclosures and the mapping of “distressed” and “shrinking” places in the City of Cleveland. Planning for shrinkage often turns into a policy to keep real estate prices and city services up in some neighborhoods at the expense of others. The mapping of deserving and undeserving neighborhoods excludes and impoverishes those places deemed racially infiltrated, declining, and dying. At times, the federal government and cities around the U.S. want to get rid of what they see as declining neighborhoods, but what they really get rid of is affordable housing. It could be argued that this is a form of “neoliberal urbanism”, but these policies had a precursor in the 1930s and late 1960s and 1970s. The “old urban right” had already won several significant victories in the war of ideologies, hinting at a neoliberalism avant la lettre.
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