Racial capitalism and geographies of housing financialization

Authors: Desiree Fields*, University of California, Berkeley, Elora Raymond, Georgia Institute of Technology
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: racial capitalism, settler colonialism, financialization, housing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom 2, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Second Floor Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In this paper we situate the financialization of housing since 2008 in the broader context of racial capitalism. Broadly, housing financialization refers to a process by which home is treated in financial terms, i.e. principally as an asset rather than a site of shelter and social reproduction. By mobilizing the black radical tradition and centering the housing struggles of marginalized groups, we relate contemporary racialized displacement and dispossession to settler colonialism and the plantation. Such a perspective is often absent from research on the housing financialization, in which race (at various scales, e.g. individuals, households, neighborhoods) frequently figures as a variable while the logics underpinning the uneven impacts of financialization on Black and brown people and places go unexamined. This glosses over the process by which racial difference has ever driven the production of value in capitalism, including in housing markets. As private equity funds fuel a resurgence of land contracts and the rise of evictions in the post-2008 housing market, we observe that the racializing logics of chattel slavery and settler colonialism remain fundamental to the operation of finance in housing markets today. In forging links between today’s racialized geographies of housing financialization and the much longer history of the reliance of finance and financial technologies on Black and indigenous spaces as frontiers for new rounds of capital accumulation, we aim to contribute to movements for housing justice that seek freedom and liberation.

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