Toward a politics of accountability: neighborliness, care and whiteness in Detroit’s Foreclosure crisis

Authors: Rachael Baker*, York University
Topics: Urban Geography, Women
Keywords: Ethics of care, whiteness, accountability, metabolisms of foreclosure, Detroit
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the 2008 mortgage crisis neighborhoods and residents in Detroit have continued to sustain anemic levels of preventable foreclosures over tax delinquency. The city’s over assessed property values are part of a post-bankruptcy governance regime to remarketize the city’s large stock of publically-held housing and land. The landscape of housing insecurity in Detroit today is constitutive of metabolisms of foreclosure productive of vacancy that recirculates back into the private market. Over 50% of the city’s households, rented or owed, are led by African American women, many of whom reside in multi-generational families, caring for children and elders. Growing economic inequality and community efforts to keep Detroit a majority black city has roused organized responses against territorial reconfigurations that could drive further political-economic division and displacement. urged by the necessity to upend the displacement of women and children in Detroit’s neighborhoods, the Tricycle Collective a woman-led non-profit utilized lean tactical approaches to assist households in evading eviction and eventual foreclosure through an ethics of caring for one’s neighbor. Drawing on participant observations and action research, I consider the potential for harm in exercising an ethics of care alone within a deeply racialized housing market without the intention of constructing next steps for advocates and activists to direct opposition, actively and academically in the ongoing crisis of affordability and rights to housing. Speaking through critical race studies, urban geography and feminist and gender studies, feminist ethics of care and deconstructed alongside a “politics of accountability”, as a framework for action and analysis.

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