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Segregation in search of ideology? Hegemony and contestation in the spatial and racial configuration of Los Angeles

Gibbons, Andrea (2014) Segregation in search of ideology? Hegemony and contestation in the spatial and racial configuration of Los Angeles. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Segregation is a constant in all US cities yet is peripheral to key work on spatial political economy, such as David Harvey (2007) and Neil Smith (1982, 1996). This thesis builds on their theorisations of the circuits of capital in relation to rent and uneven development by drawing on theorisations of white privilege (primarily Pulido, 2000) and the critical race theory of Stuart Hall (1980). Hall’s work on hegemony and articulation enables a better understanding of how the dialectics of land’s use value and rent connect to ideologies of race and neoliberalism, to city politics, and to the shifting geography of Los Angeles. The ongoing and primarily African-American struggle to occupy residential space reveals the ways in which racism and contestation have been central to the formation of Los Angeles, to the increasing privatisation of space, and to the changing flows of capital through its built environment. These issues are explored through the principal three chapters, each dedicated to an historical moment when a civil rights victory succeeded in achieving concrete shifts in the politics of race and space: the long term campaign that overturned racially restrictive covenants in 1948; the mass civil rights struggle to integrate the city’s suburbs in 1963-64; and the preservation of thousands of private residential hotel units in a gentrifying downtown in 2006. Despite their success in forcing new articulations of rationalising ideologies, politics, and capitalism’s search for a ‘spatial fix’, these struggles demonstrate that the unchanging elements in the emerging hegemony have been the prominence of force over the manufacture of consent, and the maintenance of a privileged white spatiality. I argue that a large part of neoliberalism’s power ultimately lies in its ability to rationalise and legitimate this spatiality with a colourblind discourse, masking racial inequalities and the continuing racism at the heart of US society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Andrea Gibbons
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment

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