Rea Zaimi

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Illinois, Urbana, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9671

Approve Date

April 18, 2018

Project Title

Zaimi, Rea, U. of Illinois, Urbana, IL - To aid research on 'Afterlives of Disinvestment: Revitalization and Infra-Structural Labor in Chicago,' supervised by Dr. Jesse Ribot

Preliminary abstract: Mass foreclosures in the wake of the housing crisis exacerbated the vacancy, population decline, and decaying infrastructure that have plagued the U.S. Rust Belt for decades. Under post-recession fiscal and state retrenchment, city governments are mobilizing vacancy and revitalization programs as key levers for re-organizing land and labor surplused by the crisis and by decades of state-sanctioned racialized disinvestment and organized abandonment. In this vein, the City of Chicago has implemented innovative programs that turn vacant land and buildings, cast as detritus, into a resource for spurring community-centered development in its South Side neighborhoods. My dissertation research will examine how these programs are reconfiguring the political-economic forces that produce racialized landscapes of (dis)accumulation in Chicago. To this end, I situate vacancy as a site for examining the afterlives of disinvestment generated by decades of uneven racialized development. Through ethnographic and archival methods, I will analyze how Chicago’s vacancy programs are mobilizing residents’ labor and transforming their role in the production of space on the city’s disinvested South Side. As vacancy becomes a pivotal site for governing residents’ relations to land, I will examine the mechanisms that enroll residents’ devalued or unpaid labor in the revalorization of disinvested spaces, and the ways historical entanglements of waste, race and space are being recast in and through this labor. This research will position the labor of revitalization as a key site for critical engagement with socio-spatial and infrastructural transitions under post-resession austerity.