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The New Suburban Secession: A Postfascist Turn in Atlanta’s Cityhood Movement

Authors: Coleman Allums*, University of Georgia, Scott N Markley, University of Georgia
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: Race, Secession, Suburbs, Whiteness, Property
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In a recent article for CityLab, Brentin Mock gives a critical account of the movement for Eagle’s Landing, a proposed majority-white city in the suburbs south of Atlanta which he names the “strangest form of white flight.” Proponents of Eagle’s Landing, Mock tells us, seek to redraw municipal boundaries to selectively carve out attractive tranches of “land, people, and properties that already belong to the [more diverse] city of Stockbridge.” White mobilization to maintain residential exclusivity has been a relative constant in the Atlanta region over many decades. In recent years, secession via municipal incorporation—justified in colorblind, neoliberal language—has been a hegemonic technology. The case of Eagle’s Landing marks an important rupture: the recent transition from a relatively diverse, but white-governed, municipality to a Black-marked and -governed place has produced a more reactionary discourse than those structuring prior movements for suburban secession. This more reactionary localism, echoing nation-scale postfascist discourses, is more concerned with perceived decline, racial belonging, territorial control, and a simulacral historiography and cultural tendency. Critically, though, such emergent expressions of reactionary white localism as Eagle’s Landing do not represent a complete rejection of existing neoliberal urbanism. Rather, we argue, they are products of neoliberalism’s fixation on protecting property, which here we understand as always-already racialized. With this perspective, we can reimagine the Eagle’s Landing effort to secede from Stockbridge as a particular, neoliberally-inflected reaction to racial change, a postfascist sublation of the neoliberal order which has dominated suburban secession in Atlanta for over a decade.

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