Liquid tenancy: Community Organizing Post-Crisis and New Forms of Resistance

Authors: Josh Akers*, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dine Butler, CUNY, Eric C Seymour, Brown University, Wade Rathke, ACORN International
Topics: Urban Geography, Economic Geography, United States
Keywords: Community Organizing, Housing, Critical GIS, Financialization, Eviction
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


What has emerged in the wake of the financial crisis is a system of liquid tenancy. The deployment of contractual arrangements by speculative owners, backed by the threat of violence from the state through eviction, that extracts profits from low-income and racialized communities while further destabilizing areas of long-term disinvestment. This paper examines the emergence of economies of displacement and dispossession over the past decade and two activist movements that emerged in response. We are particularly interested in the liminal space between liquidity and fixity, the ways in which the financialization of housing has destabilized tenancy in the wake of the crisis, and the conceptions of space and rights to place in resistance movements. To understand this, we focus on the geography of contemporary speculative property ownership, the increasingly common use of exploitative instruments such as land contract and lease to own agreements, and the resulting increase in evictions. We then turn to two organizations responding to this instability by organizing at different scales, with contrasting organizational models, and politics that converge around the right to remain in place. This paper is a collective effort between academics working directly with the ACORN Homesavers Campaign and Detroit Eviction Defense.

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