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Research Justice at the Intersections

Catherine (Katy) Guimond
CGuimond
Visiting Faculty, Interdisciplinary Studies, San Francisco Art Institute

Uneasy Ground: Rebuilding Community and Real Estate in the Wake of Crisis

The revitalization of the South Bronx over the last thirty years has been fundamentally shaped by contradiction and struggles over the nature of revitalization itself. In this research project, I develop a framework for and a history of the politics of revitalization in the South Bronx. Two conflicting visions of revitalization emerged out of the crisis of the 1970s. Radical and left- liberal visions of revitalization were based on a deep distrust of for-profit landlords and the dynamics of real estate markets inspired by the dramatic abandonment of the South Bronx by landlords and banks in the 1970s. A more politically moderate vision of revitalization influenced by the city’s neoliberal turn after the fiscal crisis of 1974-5 advocates the repair of real estate markets with subsidies and appropriate regulation so that the power of the private sector can be harnessed to rebuild devastated neighborhoods, and so those neighborhoods can benefit the city through tax revenues and housing for workers and the homeless. Both of these strands of revitalization were included in the institutions the New York City government developed in the late 1970s to revitalize devastated neighborhoods. Conflict and collaboration between these two types of revitalization was renewed in the Bronx in the late 1980s, when a Bronx-specific revitalization was proposed by Bronx officials, planners and boosters to reverse the tendency for the Bronx to be used as a regional dumping ground for unwanted people.

Like gentrification, the revitalization of the South Bronx has been a part of the return of capital, people and industry to the city. This research begins to answer the question of how revitalization and gentrification relate to each other by examining the politics of revitalization, specifically the extent to which South Bronx residents, especially poor and working class residents, are able to shape revitalization efforts and fight their own displacement.

Biography

Dr Guimond's research analyzes the political economy of neighborhood revitalization and investigates the relations among gentrification, revitalization, and disinvestment. Her work demonstrates the importance of inclusive and democratic people-centered efforts in addressing the negative effects of market-driven processes of disinvestment and gentrification. Research justice is especially important in the study of gentrification and neighborhood change because so much research on these issues is oriented toward the improvement of places rather than justice for the people affected by disinvestment, often leading to further exclusions by race and class.

Her current research focuses on 1) the relationship of radical and feminist modes of neighborhood improvement with liberal revitalization and gentrification, and 2) how the articulation of race and property value (often understood in terms of suburbanization) is being reproduced and reworked through processes of gentrification. Her dissertation, “Battle for the Bronx: Neighborhood Revitalization in a Gentrifying City,” focused on the rebuilding of the South Bronx in New York since the 1970s. She continues to work in the Bronx, and is developing a research project in the Bay Area on how those most likely to be displaced are working to create alternatives to gentrification. She has previously researched indigenous politics in Peru and the political ecology of sleeping sickness in Tanzania.

Research Justice at the Intersections

Overview

RJI Scholars Program

2015-16 Scholars

Last Updated: 9/5/17