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"The Truth and White Bullshit": People, Power, and Politics in Building Infrastructure in Denver, Colorado

Authors: Renee Moreno*, California State University, Northridge
Topics: Cultural Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Denver, gentrification, infrastructure
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Like other American cities, Denver is in the midst of an economic, cultural, and population boom (Kelly 2016; Murray 2017 and is attracting white, affluent people, who are driving demand for and increasing housing prices. As housing becomes expensive, established inhabitants are often displaced from their communities, relocating to blighted suburbs. Neighborhoods that were once Latino and African American are transformed—leaving a lame same whiteness in communities that were vibrant and diverse. Denver’s infrastructure has also not kept pace with growth, and the city looks for ways to manage congested roadways. One plan currently underway is constructing a “10-mile section of I-70 that runs between I-25 and Chambers Road,” just east of Denver (Carter 2016). The proposed expansion of I-70, however, will “run through, [and] thus will most directly affect,” the working class, ethnically diverse, Latino and Mexican/Mexican American communities of Swansea, Elyria and Globeville (Carter 2016). To most outsiders, to developers and the mayor of the city, the communities are barrios and have a reputation as “most polluted zip code,” 80216. Soil samples from a local elementary school playground had evidence of heavy metals and dangerous pollutants from industry, which exposed residents to health risks (DeChristopher 2018). This presentation examines Denver’s hegemonial structures that exert power over territory, place and landscape—especially as they effect the spatial and material realities of peoples’ lives. I am interested in the spatialized forms of resistance that have surfaced in the face of changing landscapes and examine counter-narrative as resistance to domination.

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