Substituting Sistrunk: Fanonian 'subsitition' and the aesthetics of gentrification

Authors: Jovan Scott Lewis*, University of California, Berkeley
Topics: Economic Geography, Cultural Geography, United States
Keywords: Gentrification, aesthetics, Fanon, decolonization, Black Geographies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Governors Square 10, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In Wretched of the Earth, Fanon describes decolonization as “quite simply the substitution of one “species” of mankind by another.” This paper extends Fanon’s claim of substitutional decolonization to provide a core colonial logic for gentrification as rooted in this dispossessive violence. Given that this process “never goes unnoticed,” substitution presents us with a mode of recognition, which I argue must be seen as a form of aesthetics, thus producing an aesthetic violence. While debates on gentrification overlook the aesthetic, the aesthetic rendering of gentrification is one that is as violent as any other means of de/colonial substitution. In thinking through this point, I will present the case of the transformations underway in the South Florida neighborhood of Sistrunk. Historically Black, marginalized, impoverished, but vibrant, Sistrunk under a changing regime of policy and commerce has become a newly envisioned site for a new species. In it’s aesthetic transformation, the politics of recognition, where the term’s usage is meant both as a means of identification and validation are at play in complex and unsettling ways.

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