Analyzing Displacement through Community Vitality

Authors: Jeremy Auerbach*, Colorado State University, Solange Munoz, University of Tennessee, Alex Cooper, Child Care Aware of America, Elizabeth Walsh, University of Denver
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Quantitative Methods, Cartography
Keywords: urban, displacement, vulnerability, critical mapping, gentrification
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Critical approaches to the study of displacement focused on mapping vulnerability factors and analyzing power structures driving racial, social and environmental injustice often ignore and exclude the collective resilience, everyday vitality, and community knowledge that characterize rooted urban neighborhoods and build immunity to serial forced displacement. Building on theoretical and methodological foundations in critical, black and latinX geographies, black feminist theory, and environmental justice, we argue that while vulnerability mapping has made significant contributions to academic understanding of displacement and inequity, methodological constraints fail to (1) identify intersectional oppressions and name them as such, (2) center community knowledge and strengths, and (3) advance community activism, thereby limiting contributions of such analysis to positive change. Moving beyond these constraints, this paper presents a methodological approach to collaborative urban displacement research that addresses those failures with a case study from an urban US neighborhood under immense displacement and gentrification pressures. Vulnerability-mapping reveals that rapid reinvestment in the area, the rise of the legalized marijuana industry, and the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to physical, social, cultural, and economic displacement pressures for one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Yet asset-mapping also reveals a space of community resilience and innovation where leaders are advancing a model of equitable, regenerative development that (1) offers real and practical solutions to neighborhood displacement and (2) provides an alternative vision of the city, its recognized members, and their rights and responsibilities.

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