Accessing racial privilege through property: Geographies of racial capitalism (2022)

Table of Contents
Geoforum Abstract Introduction Section snippets Racialized structures of property and privilege Historical overview of racial capitalism through US Housing Policies Boulder: spatializing inequality through housing and land Kabul: spatializing inequality through economic development and housing Summary and conclusions Acknowledgements References (77) The University of Colorado, 1876–1976 Critical race theory and social justice perspectives on Whiteness, difference(s) and (anti)racism: A fourth wave of race research in leisure studies Leisure Stud. Driven from New Orleans: How Nonprofits Betray Public Housing and Promote Privatization The white geography of Lawren Stewart Harris: Whiteness and the performative coupling of wilderness and multiculturalism in Canada Environ. Plan. A Whiteness as property: predatory lending and the reproduction of racialized inequality Crit. Sociol. Colonial lives of property: Law, land, and racial regimes of ownership “Afghanistan’s Returning Refugees: Why are so many still landless” Afghanistan Analysts Network, 1–9 Beyond white privilege: Geographies of white supremacy and settler colonialism Prog. Hum. Geogr. The Negroes of Boulder, Colorado: A Community Analysis of an Ethnic Minority Group. Master of Arts The trouble with wilderness; or, getting back to the wrong nature Deconcentration by demolition: public housing, poverty, and urban policy Environ. Plan. D: Soc. Space Glory Colorado!: A history of the University of Colorado, 1858–1963 The Empires’ Edge: Militarization, Resistance and Transcending Hegemony in the Pacific Home-grown racism: Colorado’s historic embrace–and denial–of equal opportunity in higher education Univ. Colorado Law Rev. Imagining nature and erasing class and race: Carleton Watkins, John Muir, and the construction of wilderness Environ. History Wageless Life New Left Rev. Recent development in Kabul’s Shar-E-Naw and Central Bazaar Districts ASIEN The political economy of post-invasion Kabul, Afghanistan: urban restructuring beyond the north-south divide Urban Stud. Black faces, white spaces: Reimagining the relationship of African Americans to the great outdoors ‘Foreign Passports Only’: Geographies of (Post) Conflict Work in Kabul, Afghanistan Ann. Assoc. Am. Geogr. Rethinking gender in US housing policy Good Soc. New deal ruins: Race, economic justice, and public housing policy Urban Cohesiveness in Kabul City: Challenges and Threats Int. J. Environ. Stud. Cited by (2) Three Histories of Greening and Whiteness in American Cities Recommended articles (6) Videos
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Geoforum

Volume 132,

June 2022

, Pages 238-246

Abstract

This paper examines racial capitalism through the lens of housing and urban development. We compare two disparate places Kabul, Afghanistan and Boulder, Colorado in order to illustrate the commonalities of property rights regimes, and the (ill)logics of economic development that reinforce racial-economic privilege. By exploring housing specifically, this paper explicates the ways in which availability, affordability, and desirability are intertwined with racialized conceptualizations of space. Both Kabul and Boulder are dominated by legacies and contemporary practices of white privilege and economic inequality based on neoliberal racial capitalism. Housing in Kabul has been a key part of international and national economic development programs, while the influx of international funds and workers included a form of gentrification that significantly marginalized local-Afghans from several spaces in the capital city. In Boulder, property values have increased exponentially in recent decades due to the growth of information technology jobs and influx of wealth. The racial and economic marginalization of nonwhite and low-income persons in Boulder remains consistent within housing and work sectors. The racialization of Afghans by international development workers in Kabul, and the racialization of poverty and marginalization of nonwhite minorities in Boulder explicate the tensions and conflicts between property rights regimes and the “right” to be housed. This paper examines the ways in which discursive representations of wealth and poverty become geopolitical and geo-economic tools of racialized socioeconomic ostracism. Analyzing these disparate places through the lens of racial capitalism explicates the common forms of reductionism used to reinforce market privilege over the lives and livelihoods of bodies racialized as “other”. While the specific histories of domination differ by location, the effects of racial capitalism are visible in each, particularly through relations of private property.

(Video) Geographies of Racial Capitalism Interview with Director Kenton Card

Introduction

In this article we examine the enduring legacies of racialized and racist housing policies and the relationship between property values and privileged whiteness. Our analyses focus on privileged white spaces in Boulder, Colorado, USA and housing marginalization in Kabul, Afghanistan by way of US-led development. We begin with an overview of historical racist and uneven economic housing policies in the US and how they have been imported through economic development programs in Afghanistan. We argue that whiteness operates as an essential framework for understanding Boulder’s self-representation as a healthy, socially inclusive, and liberal environment as well as a site of wealth and wealth generation (particularly in the housing market). Drawing on Melamed (2006) we illustrate the ways in which white privilege is performed to meet the neoliberal expectations of “proper” economic behavior. Performances of white privilege in Boulder mirror those of international workers in Kabul, Afghanistan, particularly when focusing on the ability to access affordable housing. Through both cases, we trace the (ill)logics of racial capitalism that structure inequality along multiple axes including race and class in contingent, context-based ways. We demonstrate how complex and varied the landscapes of racial capitalism are, yet they share common attributes of wealth and poverty through the issues of economic access. This access is governed by intersecting racial capitalist logics of property, ownership, and occupation.

Section snippets

Racialized structures of property and privilege

Scholars have established race and racism as a means for the production of difference and inequality that exist independently of class relations (Omi and Winant, 1994, Pulido, 1996), but that interact with capitalism in significant and variable ways (Robinson, 2000). Cedric Robinson (2000: 66) argues that racism (or “racialism” as he phrases it), in variable forms (including the delineation of some peoples of Europe from others) predates capitalism. Capitalism picked up and expanded on racial

Historical overview of racial capitalism through US Housing Policies

Housing segregation is the hallmark of urban spatial inequality in US history. Rather than some by-product of class relations, racial capitalism frames this racial inequality as fundamental to capitalism (Pulido, 2016, Robinson, 2000). The framework of racial capitalism fuses the insights of Marxist materialist analysis with the understanding that racism is produced independently of class relations (Omi and Winant, 1994, Pulido, 1996). Racial capitalism structures societies such that some

Boulder: spatializing inequality through housing and land

The racial logics of differentiation that undergird capitalist commodification of land are visible in Boulder’s history and are magnified in its contemporary exclusionary racial, class, and cultural housing environment. In this section, we demonstrate how access to property in Boulder—both land and housing—has been and continues to be defined by race and class through differential valuation of bodies and spaces. This disparate access outlines the topography of racial differentiation and

Kabul: spatializing inequality through economic development and housing

Boulder, Colorado, USA and Kabul, Afghanistan are two distinct and significantly different places. However, the following overview of changing housing policies and procedures in Afghanistan (Kabul, specifically) provides a window into the exportation of racialized capitalism through aid/development to Afghanistan (2012–2012). In this section, we provide an overview of twentieth and early twenty-first century land tenure reforms in Afghanistan, followed by an examination of the ways in which

Summary and conclusions

Economic and racial/ethnic privilege is expressed by way of performances of whiteness and dominance of economic privilege in Boulder and Kabul. Through racialized performances and material possession certain individuals or groups claim the “most desirable” and valuable housing stock. The predominance of white-economic privilege is further performed through various acts and forms of consumption, which cater to the needs, wants, and desires of the landed racial and economic elites.

Practices of

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for providing exceptional feedback and suggestions for improving this article. We would also like to thank Adam Bledsoe, Willie Wright, and Tyler McCreary for organizing this special issue and providing comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this article. Special thanks to CU-Boulder’s Office of Outreach and Engagement for providing funding for the data collected in Boulder, CO. We extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to the

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      I investigate the place given to Israeli single mothers' families and their right to the city in current housing discourses and state decisions. I discuss their right to appropriation--to be in the city and to occupy and make use of urban space. I also focus on their right to “difference” – namely, to have their identity and their difficulty in obtaining and securing housing fully considered in policy processes, and not to be pushed out of the social and geographic center of the country. Following the 2011 nationwide protests, the Israeli government promoted housing reforms, and housing programs became a major issue for politicians and the media. However, I demonstrate that there has been silence regarding single mothers, evident in several ways. First, policy criteria and most discourses are gender neutral and refer only to 'single parents'. Second, the mothers are framed in two opposing, simplistic categories--either as part of the weakest population or conversely as regular middle-class families. Program decisions provide only partial solutions. They also require single mothers to choose between the right to occupy a house and to difference. Using this case, I exemplify how Israel’s current housing agenda subjects the right to the city to neoliberal ideas and the overall aims of the state.

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