Constructing Urban Futures in the Military City: Affective Municipal Aspirations and Property Relationships at Brooks, San Antonio.

Authors: Michelle Padley*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Urban Geography, Feminist Geographies, Legal Geography
Keywords: Feminist Geography, Urban Geography, Political Geography, Urban Governance, City Development, Cultural Geography, Legal Geography, Property
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 34
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Throughout Brooks, a peri-urban development in San Antonio, Texas, names of residential buildings and event spaces such as “Aviator” refer to a not-so-distant past when Brooks Air Force Base was active prior to 2005. The area is now a 1,300-acre mixed-use site with its own Development Authority, forty businesses, 2,300 residents, and plans for a greenway. Concurrent to these changes achieved through property transfer, Brooks’ media presence invokes both the past and an idealistic future, articulating a “tradition of ambition” reflective of both San Antonio’s status as “the military city” and the site’s specific history in relation to the air force (Brooks 2020). This narrative suggests Brooks is not merely a place to live or work, but rather is part of a project to develop a certain kind of atmosphere and destination for San Antonio. As the development’s website articulates, “To Live Brooks is to embrace the future...the sky’s the limit for people who Live Brooks.” Research on urban development related to land ownership and financialization has shown that property is central to the city (Fields 2018; Blomley 2004). Work on atmospheres of feeling, emotions, and embodiment, demonstrates how affective politics impacts guiding logics of development and belonging (Ahmed 2004; Anderson 2016; Laketa 2016). Building on specific examples from Brooks’ development strategy, I argue that there are relationships between technologies of property and affective politics that is crucial to the production of this space. In doing so, this paper suggests an opening for understanding drivers of contemporary urban development.

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