Urban Restructuring and the Educational Politics of Race and Place in the Global Niche City

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Thomas PEDRONI , Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
While Detroit is not a center of global finance and has declined as a global production center for the automobile industry the changing relationship among cities, nation-states, and the global economy is manifested in struggles over urban development strategies in Detroit as its leadership attempts to position the metropolitan area as a global niche city. In the process of reimagining the city, the region’s largely neoliberal corporate and political leadership deploys particular urban development strategies in the areas of education, housing, public infrastructure, and governance. While such deployments are framed as both inevitable and in the best interest of everyone, they are also deeply implicated in the restructuring of social and educational exclusion, particularly among the cities overwhelmingly impoverished Black and immigrant residents.

My paper analyzes Detroit’s neoliberal policy complex in relation to education, urban development, and governance, drawing on documentary analysis pertaining to the crafting of policy. Recognizing the devastating impact of massive home foreclosures, urban flight, rampant segregation and poverty, and the closing of many public schools, I also reference ethnographic work I am beginning in public schools in urban and suburban Detroit to demonstrate the ways in which nostalgia for the city among suburban whites, rituals of place-making, and their intersection with the racial imaginary and issues of territoriality play out in broader struggles over the city and the metropolitan region’s resources, cultural representations, and power.