If you are in the NYC area for the week(end), I'll be presenting on Monday around 5:20. You can find more information on that here. I don't know if I found the community land trust through my pursuit of the urban common or the exact reverse of that, but I hope it is clear how this paper presentation fits into the things I'm working on for space within lines. If you are at AAG, don't hesitate to find me and say hello. My paper presentation is titled "Towards an Ethnography of Economic Diversity: Community Land Trusts as Urban Policy" and I've posted the abstract below.
Recent geographic work within diverse economies has sought to make visible often hidden and marginalized economic practices such as alternative forms of property ownership and land tenure. The purpose of visibility is, in part, to frame these practices as both legible and viable for policy making. At the same time, research in the anthropology of policy has aimed at engaging the processes through which policy implementation actively shapes individual and collective identities by promoting new forms of self-governance. In reading these research trajectories, I find two openings: expanding work within diverse economies on the political process through which alternative economic projects incorporate into existing policy regimes; and using the ethnographic tools from the anthropology of policy to read for the contestation of dominant narratives as opposed to their entrenchment. As city governments and urban social movements increasingly experiment with the community land trust (CLT) as a viable urban policy, I suggest this site as a ground for exploring the messy politics of building alternate urban futures. I suggest possibilities for expanding an ethnographic account of the CLT, focusing on the politics of participation and inclusion, the process of place-making and scalar contestation, and the unintended consequences of policy implementation.Since writing the abstract, however, I've thought through my project a bit more and become interested in urban assemblage theory and less interested in scale. So, I reworked a brief description that I've posted below.
If you've made it this far, I apologize for the perfunctory writing style of both abstracts. With particular apologies to Geoff Dyer, should that curmudgeonly writer ever come across this blog. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any geographic paper competitions for "best prose". But these are some of the academic conversations I want to be part of, and I hope to someday just speak through my work without heralding its own importance first. Until then, here is a draft sketch of some of the sophisticated diagrams I plan on using to explain things in my presentation.The U.S. CLT movement has been gaining momentum over the past decade in urban development and affordable housing policy. Municipal governments are increasingly picking up the CLT as a viable and practical policy, creating programs and directing funding towards CLT initiatives. This gesture prompts a series of issues for the CLT as a movement, and provides an opening to make a series of interventions within academic discussions of “development” and the “urban”: (1) The anthropology of policy has long focused on the processes of neoliberalization in cities, and how they work to create new neo-liberal subjects through policy encounters. The CLT problematizes this entirely neoliberal landscape, by appropriating a supposed “neoliberal” policy space for progressive ends. (2) Counter to this reading, research on diverse economies has sought to highlight the various economic practices in a “capitalist” economic landscape that are, in fact, non-capitalist. The CLT—and, more generally, land-use and urban policy—is only beginning to be discussed in this literature. (3) Actor-network theory has recently made its way into urban studies, allowing the application of a site-specific and assemblage based methodology on urban policy and infrastructural issues. This thinking is intensely concerned with building/tracing the “urban commons” and is bereft of an account of the everyday practices of the urban CLT movement. (4) Previous research on CLTs has largely focused on making the tenure model legible to policy makers, municipal governments and neighborhood organizations and has employed both policy analysis and survey-based research. An ethnographic account of the CLT policy-building process would provide both the movement and the research with a much needed account of the everyday political struggles and affective stances that make Philadelphia’s CLT. As CLT’s become a popular municipal policy model, the movement must pay close attention to the process of adaptation and the politics of inclusion. Each of these interventions allows both a watchful and hopeful view from the street as the movement begins to navigate the uneasy terrain of policy legitimacy.