Selected Publications

Excerpt:  What do you think about the 'Smart City'?  If you live in any large city - or if you pay attention to any of the press coverage or advertising that deals with big-city concerns - there's a good chance that you're now reflecting on a potent brew of associations, images, and connotations in response to this question.  Cities are at the center of a smarter planet, IBM tells you.  RFID chips, sensors, smart cards, and the emerging 'Internet of Things' will deliver optimal speed, efficiency, and convenience, your local transit agency / privatized power utility / city government assures you.  'Many Smart Ideas. One Smart Nation,' declares the Smart Nation Singapore strategy. Cisco and AT&T are joining forces to build 'Smart City Operations Centers' with municipal governments and local universities in several 'spotlight cities' to provide officials with a 'digital dashboard' view of 'how assets are performing in near-real time.'  India's Ministry of Urban Development recently selected Bloomberg Philanthropies as the official 'Knowledge Partner' to catalyze the Smart Cities Challenge, with its less-than-humble aspirations:  "Smart Cities Improve Lives." ...

Abstract:  Suburbs that developed in metropolitan Canada post-World War II have historically been depicted as homogeneous landscapes of gendered domesticity, detached housing, White middle-class nuclear families, and heavy automobile use. We find that key features of this historical popular image do in fact persist across the nation’s contemporary metropolitan landscape, particularly at the expanding fringes and in mid-sized cities near the largest metropolitan areas. Th e findings reflect suburbanization into new areas, point to enduring social exclusion, and recall the negative environmental consequences arising from suburban ways of living such as widespread automobile use and continuing sprawl. However, the analysis also points to the internal diversity that marks suburbanization today and to the growing presence of suburban ways of living in central areas. Our results suggest that planning policies promoting intensification and targeting social equity objectives are likely to remain ineff ective if society fails to challenge directly the political, economic and socio-cultural drivers behind the kind of suburban ways of living that fit popular imaginings of post-World War II suburbs in central areas. Our results suggest that planning policies promoting intensification and targeting social equity objectives are likely to remain ineffective if society fails to challenge directly the political, economic and socio-cultural drivers behind the kind of suburban ways of living that fit popular imaginings of post-World War II suburbs.

Abstract:  As capitalist urbanisation evolves, so too does gentrification. Theories and experiences that have anchored the reference points of gentrification in the Global North for half a century are now rapidly evolving into more cosmopolitan, dynamic world urban systems of variegated gentrifications. These trends seem to promise a long-overdue postcolonial provincialisation of the entrenched Global North bias of urban theory. Yet there is a jarring paradox between the material realities of some of the largest non-military urban displacements in human history in the Global South, alongside a growing reluctance to ‘impose’ Northern languages, theories and politics of gentrification to understand these processes. In this paper, I negotiate this paradox through an engagement of several seemingly unrelated empirical trends and theoretical debates in urban studies and gentrification. My central argument is that interdependent yet partially autonomous developments in urban entrepreneurialism and transnational markets in labour, real estate and education are transcending the dichotomy between gentrification in cities (the traditional focus of so much place-based research) versus gentrification as a dimension of planetary urbanisation. Amidst the planetary technological transformations now celebrated as ‘cognitive capitalism’ and a communications-consciousness ‘noösphere’, these developments are coalescing into a global, cosmopolitan and multicultural tapestry of explicitly evolutionary class transformations of urban space that adapt to multiply scaled contingencies of urban history, socio-cultural difference, state power and terrains of resistance. The argument proceeds in three steps. First, I explain how social Darwinism was deeply embedded within conventional urban theory in the decades before Ruth Glass gave us a language for the discussion of gentrification, thus perpetuating debates over narrow empirical issues at the expense of deeper critical scrutiny of the evolutionary logics of socio-spatial classifications. Second, I examine the recent movement for a ‘cosmopolitan decolonisation’ of gentrification theory that has emerged at the precise moment when powerful alliances are consolidating the networked infrastructures of gentrification on an unprecedented scale. Third, I analyse the contemporary evolution of gentrification as a recombinant blend of old and new, as the means of class transformation of urban space are accelerated through intensified competition in work, education and housing. The built environments of planetary urbanisation provide ample opportunities not only for diverse cosmopolitan descendants of old-fashioned urban renewal in the style of Haussmann’s Paris or Moses’ New York, but also for new generations of ‘capitalists with conscience’–entrepreneurial coalitions closing ‘moral rent gaps’ by integrating the economic profits of gentrification with the discourses and practices of environmental sustainability, socially responsible development and global fields of educational opportunity. All of these escalating competitions are legitimated as inclusive multicultural meritocracies. Yet the relentless optimism of competitive innovation in the cognitive-capitalist noösphere is creating dangerous new frontiers of human ecology that reproduce the social-Darwinist ‘form of society’ that Frederick Jackson Turner envisioned in his theorisation of the ‘recurrence of the process of evolution’ in America’s colonial-settler waves of violent dispossession.

Abstract:  If you're reading these words on a digital device, we are not alone: our encounter as author and reader is taking/making place in and through an uneven, evolutionary planetary digital infrastructure of cognitive production, measurement and monetization. Five and a half millennia after symbolic discourses of literacy and authorship co-evolved with the first urban revolution, the material, embodied phenomenological encounters of planetary urbanization have arrived at the precise moment of explosive contingency in the scalar nexus between cities and literacy. ‘What is an author?’, Foucault asked in a brilliant lecture in Paris in February 1969. Today, if we put Foucault's question into an intertextual dialogue with contemporary critical urban theory as well as earlier elements of Comte, Marx and Kant, we gain fresh insight into the ways reading and writing are being reconstituted through partially automated constellations of quantification and commodification of human consciousness. Foucault's genealogy of the ‘author function’ has become an increasingly contested and lucrative circuit of accumulation as Marx's concept of the ‘general intellect’ has materialized through the transnational urban networks of what is now widely described as ‘cognitive capitalism'. The growth and evolutionary adaptation of socially networked cultures of reading, viewing, sharing and writing are now performing a new neo-Kantian time-space construction of sense perception in a planetary version of Harvey's ‘urbanization of consciousness', putting individual authors into constitutive conversation with global knowledges once imagined by Comte as the ‘Great Being’ of collective intergenerational inheritance of post-theistic human knowledge.

Abstract: With a mantra that ‘nobody is as smart as everybody,’ Google maintains giant databases that enable unprecedented quantitative analysis of a social world that is now majority urban. A Wall Street web-based broker offers an App that promises to turn ‘thoughts into trades.’ Economists and marketers now use evolutionary theory in ‘neuroimaging’ brain scans of consumer behavior. The United States Air Force now trains more joystick-maestro drone pilots than old-fashioned Do-the-Right-Stuff human fighters and bombers. In this article, I suggest that these trends signal a troubling reincarnation of an aggressive Right-wing (post)positivist zombie reanimated by global, digitized neoliberalism. The long-forgotten revolutionary project launched by Auguste Comte in 1822 was hijacked and corrupted after his death, and now we confront a hybrid cyborg zombie, a dehumanized, automated adaptation to the post-structuralist situated knowledges of consumer sovereignty. #Comtebot: The positivist era is right now; the question is what kinds of politics it will have.

Abstract: Contemporary urban theorists are deeply suspicious of city-inspired models and ‘schools’, but policy elites, investors and journalists harbor few reservations. One of the more prominent new contestants in the evolving locational tournaments for urban ‘model’ status is ‘Vancouverism’, an ensemble of planning and design innovations for high-density downtown living that is widely regarded as an antidote to suburban sprawl. Vancouverism may represent the eclipse of conventional forms of metro-fringe suburbanism, but it does so by privileging and centralizing neo-suburban modes of development, cultures, esthetics and lifestyles. In this way, Vancouver has not so much transcended suburbanization as it has ingested its cultural and political–economic logic.

A commentary on Mike Berry's powerful analysis, "Neoliberalism and the City:  or, the Failure of Market Fundamentalism."  We analyze how neoliberalism has hijacked the methods and discourses of behaviorialism to distract attention from its own responsibilities for precipitating the catastrophic Global Financial Crisis -- preserving its enduring hegemony on mainstream theory and public policy.

A commentary on Ron Johnston et al's powerful and eloquent call for a revitalized disciplinary curriculum in quantitative methods.  I support their call, even as I struggle to make sense of the breathtaking automation of quantitative logics and modes of thinking that threaten to de-humanize the essence of human geography...

Excerpt: If you’re reading these words, then you appreciate the first principle that motivated the creation of the journal Human Geography — “the need to retain control of the value produced by academic labor.”  I’m making an effort to write these words, and you’re working to read them — to put my thoughts into a dialogue with your own knowledge, expertise, experience, and values.  If I keep working to write, and if you decide to keep reading, then we’re building something together — an achievement of academic labor.  The result is a shared meaning that belongs to you just as much as it does to me.  This is what I want to tell you:  this principle is under siege, in the context of a widespread dehumanization of thinking as a political process.  The shared meanings produced by readers and writers, young students and not-so-young students, are now subjected to an entirely new kind of automation, surveillance, and commodification.  It threatens your work and mine, and we must fight it. ...

Abstract: The rise of social networking practices has inspired widespread public debate and scholarly attention: a growing share of social relations began to take place online in the virtual worlds of social media sites at the same time that the ‘real’ world became majority-urban. What are the implications of these trends for how we understand the geography of urban society? In this paper, we re-engage one of the foundational contributions of twentieth-century Chicago School sociology, Louis Wirth’s article “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” (1938) to understand the socio-spatial implications of social media in an era of planetary urbanization. A growing body of evidence suggests that central elements that Wirth saw as defining urbanism— the calculating instrumentalism of daily life, the paradox of individual isolation fueling the proliferation of voluntary associations and organizations, the “segmented selves” of complex divisions of labor — are being reproduced and reconfigured in socially networked lives. The centripetal social relations of the twentieth-century metropolis are overlaid by networking practices that mediate each urbanite’s blend of local, regional, national, and transnational social relations. The result is an intricate, evolving world system of socially and spatially segmented urban ways of life.

Abstract: Vancouver's successful bid for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games took place at a transformational moment for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In the first decade of this century, the IOC began to require host cities to address a much wider range of local impacts of the ‘global Games’, and to undertake planning initiatives to ensure maximum local social inclusion. In this article, we present a case study of the policies and principles of social inclusion used by the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) in preparing for the 2010 Games. We use key informant interviews, document analysis and participant observation to study a specific programme — Building Opportunities with Business (BOB) — that was showcased as one of VANOC's prominent demonstrations of social inclusion. Our evidence suggests that Games planning processes have become even more powerful instruments for the promotion of liberal philosophies through neoliberal local governance regimes; social inclusion is promised through the proliferation of ever more institutionally diffused public–private partnerships. With the neoliberal shift from public service provision to private sector entrepreneurialism, individual employability becomes the primary goal of, and normative justification for, social inclusion policies. Heavily circumscribed VANOC efforts at specific types of social inclusion have met with limited success, but it appears clear that the fusion of transnationally mobile mega-events and prevailing doctrines of neoliberal entrepreneurialism has become a significant new framework for local urban social policy.

Abstract:  Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class of 2002 ends with a clarion call for a post-industrial, post-class sensibility: ‘The task of building a truly creative society is not a game of solitaire. This game, we play as a team.’ Florida's sentiment has been echoed across a broad and interdisciplinary literature in social theory and public policy, producing a new conventional wisdom: that class antagonisms are redundant in today's climate of competitive professionalism and a dominant creative mainstream. Questions of social justice are thus deflected by reassurances that there is no ‘I’ in team, and that ‘we’ must always be defined by corporate membership rather than class-based solidarities. The post-industrial city becomes a post-political city nurtured by efficient, market-oriented governance leavened with a generous dose of multicultural liberalism. In this paper, we analyze how this Floridian fascination has spread into debates on contemporary urban social structure and neighbourhood change. In particular, we focus on recent arguments that London has become a thoroughly middle-class, post-industrial metropolis. We evaluate the empirical claims and interpretive generalizations of this literature by using the classical tools of urban factorial ecology to analyze small-area data from the UK Census. Our analysis documents a durable, fine-grained geography of social class division in London, which has been changed but not erased by ongoing processes of industrial and occupational restructuring: the central tensions of class in the city persist. Without critical empirical and theoretical analysis of the contours of post-industrial class division, the worsening inequalities of cities like London will be de-politicized. We suggest that class-conscious scholars should only head to Florida for Spring Break or retirement.

Abstract: America is now half a decade into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, triggered by a deeply racialized “innovation” at the social and spatial margin—risky, high-cost mortgage lending—that went mainstream. Predatory capital perfected its operations in poor and working-class black neighborhoods of the deindustrializing inner city, before pursuing the greater volume available across a multiracial array of postindustrial Sun Belt suburbanites. In this article, we map the dangerous spatial configurations of law that reproduced these evolving exploitations. The catastrophic aftermath of predatory financialization may have destabilized the alliance between economic and cultural conservatives that structures so much of America’s racial political economy.

Abstract:  For almost 20 years, evidence from journalists' reports, Congressional testimony, and consumer protection litigation suggested that predatory practices in the subprime market were especially harmful for elderly African American women, many of them widows.  Much of this evidence has been dismissed as anecdotal, however, and lending research has generally ignored feminist theory -- obscuring the relations among race/ethnicity, gender, and age.  In this paper, we draw on two complementary datasets to test the hypothesis that subprime inequalities were intensified for African American women.  Analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data confirms that gender inequalities exacerbate racial/ethnic inequalities in the segmentation of high-cost subprime credit, while the National Mortgage Data repository provides limited circumstantial evidence of disproportionate representation of elderly African American women.  Loan terms among subprime borrowers in the NMDR display only modest variations by gender and race/ethnicity, however, although there is some evidence of bait-and-switch tactics and persistently higher total fees among African American women.  The veneer of equal treatment within an exploitative subprime market conceals the wider context of structural inequalities of race/ethnicity, gender, and age in housing and credit.

  • Positively Radical. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35(5), 2011, 889-912.

Abstract:  Recent anxieties about the viability of critical and radical perspectives in urban research are part of our inheritance from the late 1960s and the backlash against a hegemony that connected positivist epistemology to quantitative methodologies and conservative, state-centric politics. In this article, I suggest that this memory relies on a caricature of positivist urbanism that creates a dangerous illusion of a tidy past when the cause was clear and it was easy to distinguish allies from adversaries. The linkages between epistemology, methodology and politics were unstable and contingent in positivism's heyday of the 1960s, and indeed at the birth of positivism itself. The contingent and contextual nexus of epistemology, method and politics offers abundant opportunities for new kinds of hybrids in radical, rigorous and relevant urban research.

Abstract: With a brilliance that captures ‘places photographed in all their fucked-up grandeur,’ (Alvarez, 2009, p. 414), the HBO series The Wire has seared unforgettable images of Baltimore and American urbanism into the imaginations of a vast, transnational audience. But we have known, ever since Benjamin and Sontag, that cinematography and photography can reinforce stereotypes, appropriate identities, and violate people and places through the assertion of epistemological power. Today, critical visual theory is going mainstream. Almost no-one views photographs anymore as unproblematic reflections of reality, and popular culture has become a fragmented and politicized media landscape of niche audiences that have learned the lessons of postpositivist cynical sophistication all too well. In this hostile climate, can we redeem the simple, innocent snapshot? I think we should try. Armin Lobek’s (1956) Things Maps Don’t Tell Us provides the inspiration for a simple, constructive, and critical approach that acknowledges the limits of visual representation while avoiding the costs of innovative yet negative theories defined by disillusionment.

  • Displacing New York. With Kathe Newman, Alex Schafran, and Elizabeth Lee.  Environment & Planning A 42, 2010, 2602-2623.

Abstract: The capitalization of urban property markets intensifies the contradictions between housing as use-value affordability versus exchange-value asset accumulation, and exacerbates displacement pressures. Policies designed to deal with these contradictions—public housing and rent regulations—allow some low-income renters to resist displacement, particularly in gentrifying neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the resulting empirical configuration has been interpreted in ways that cast doubt on the extent of displacement, its causal links to gentrification, and the necessity of protective policies. In this paper we present an alternative interpretation, using New York City as a case study to analyze the spatial evolution of displacement pressures amidst the restructuring of an embattled yet vital municipal welfare state.

Publisher's book description: "Gentrification remains a subject of heated debate in the public realm as well as scholarly and policy circles.  This Reader brings together the classic writings and contemporary literature that has helped to define the field, changed the direction of how it is studied and illustrated the points of conflict and consensus that are distinctive of gentrification research.  Covering everything from the theories of gentrification through to analysis of state-led policies and community resistance to those policies, this is an unparalleled collection of influential writings on a contentious contemporary issue.  With insightful commentary from the editors, who are themselves internationally renowned experts in the field, this is essential reading for students of urban planning, geography, urban studies, sociology, and housing studies."

Abstract:  In American popular discourse and policy debates, "public housing" conjures images of "the projects" -- dysfunctional neighborhood imprints of a discredited welfare state.  Yet this image, so important in justifying deconcentration, is a dangerous caricature of the diverse places where low-income public housing residents live, and it ignores the much larger public housing program -- the $100 billion-plus annual mortgage interest tax concessions to (mostly) wealthy homeowners.  In this article, we measure three spatial aspects of assisted housing, poverty, and wealth in New York City.  First, local indicators of spatial association document a contingent link between assistance and poverty:  vouchers are not consistently associated with poverty deconcentration.  Second, spatial regressions confirm this result after controlling for racial segregation and spatial autocorrelation.  Third, factor analyses and cluster classifications reveal a rich, complex neighborhood topography of poverty, wealth, and housing subsidy that defies the simplistic stereotypes of policy and popular discourse.

Abstract: Spatial assimilation theory, the traditional framework for analysing urban immigration and housing, was deeply shaped by the historical-geographical contingencies of American urbanism in the 1950s and 1960s.  Yet the most recent and forceful challenge to assimilationist research -- transnational urbanism -- is also influenced by distinctive contemporary circumstances and epistemological priorities, creating a tense and unproductive dichotomy.  We contend that such apparently fundamental theoretical disputes are at least partially resolved through methodological pluralism.  Understanding continuity and change in immigrant settlement and housing patterns requires that we draw on the distinct, complementary merits of transnational urbanist and spatial assimilation models -- while also recognizing the features of American urban development and race relations that create powerful incentives shaping the spatial trajectories of immigrant upward mobility.  We evaluate these considerations through empirical case studies of the recent rise of home-ownership among Hmong immigrants in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the interrelations between immigration and the intensified mortgage capitalisation of US housing markets.

Abstract:  In 2008, there will be at least 2.5 million new foreclosures in the United States.  Record levels of mortgage delinquency, default, and foreclosure ae causing widespread hardship in cities and suburbs across America, and causing repeated destabilization of global credit and investment markets.  In this Forum, six housing specialists unravel the complex connections between urban geography, subprime lending, and foreclosure.  Although a wide variety of viewpoints are represented, three common threads are evident.  First, foreclosures are tightly linked to the lax underwriting standards and aggressive business practices of the subprime mortgage market.  Second, the subprime-foreclosure linkage is a reflection of the steady deregulation of U.S. financial markets and the promotion of homeownership as the cornerstone of national housing policy.  Third, deregulated mortgage markete segmentation has created uneven new geographies of debt, risk, and default -- superimposed atop existing landscapes of old-fashioned exclusionary discrimination.  Low-income and racially marginalized neighborhoods, once redlined and excluded from mainstream credit markets, werre at the center of the profitable wave of subprime abuse and equity extraction during the long housing boom, and are now at the center of the long, slowly unfolding catastrophe of the U.S. foreclosure crisis.

Excerpt: As gentrification reaches the mid-point of its fourth decade of life, we can learn quite a lot from the familiar middle-class, middle-age ritual of introspection.  Suppose Ruth Glass (1964, p. xix) had been satisfied with her vivid description of the middle-class takeover of those shappy, modest, two-rooms-up and two-rooms down cottages and mews in the early 1960s and had left it at that -- offering no catchy term for the British class consciousness evoked by the old French gentil.  Suppose Glass had not been able to think of a single term to describe a back-to-the-city sentiment among those with money but who fell just short of nobility, those dismissed by the truly elite as "people of a particular, esp. inferior, stamp" (Davidson, 1903, p. 382).  What would our histories be like if this term had never appeared? ...

  • Gentrification.  With Loretta Lees and Tom Slater.  London and New York:  Routledge, 2008.

Publisher's description: This first textbook on the topic of gentrification is written for upper-level undergraduates in geography, sociology, and planning. The gentrification of urban areas has accelerated across the globe to become a central engine of urban development, and it is a topic that has attracted a great deal of interest in both academia and the popular press. Gentrification presents major theoretical ideas and concepts with case studies, and summaries of the ideas in the book as well as offering ideas for future research.

Abstract:  The worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression has drawn worldwide attention to America's subprime mortgage sector and its linkages with predatory exploitation in working-class and racially marginalized communities.  During nearly two decades of expansion, agents of subprime capital fought regulation and reform by (1) using the doctrine of risk-based pricing to equate financial innovation with democratized access to capital, (2) appealing to the cultural myths of the 'American Dream' of homeownership, and (3) dismissing well-documented cases of racial discrimination and predatory abuse as anecdotal evidence of rare problems confined to a few lost-cause places in what is otherwise a benevolent free-market landscape.  In this article, we challenge these three tactics.  Properly adapted and updated, Harvey's (1974) theory of class-monopoly rent allows us to map and interpret the localized, neighborhood exploitations of class and race in several hundred US metropolitan areas as they were woven through Wall Street securitization conduits into global networks of debt and investment.  Understanding the structural inequalities of class-monopoly rent is essential for analysis, organizing, and policy responses to the crisis.

Abstract:  Since the early 1970s, critical theorists in geography and other social sciences have worked to build what Steinmetz (2005) calls a "pluralistic postpositivist counterworld."  Postpositivist intellectual currents emerged in the shadow of, and in opposition to, mainstream science at a time when positivist epistemology, quantitative methodology, and conservative political ideology seemed always to go hand in hand.  This neat alignment was contingent and contextual, but every postpostivist movement committed to progressive or radical politics has portrayed the nexus as essential and immutable.  Over time this caricature has been reinforced and reproduced, as strident postpositivists and defensive spatial scientists pursue ever more sophisticated, challenging specializations that make it harder to bridge the binaries of our field.  In this article, I suggest that the presumed linkages between epistemology, methodology, and politics were never fundamental or immutable -- and that recent years have brough significant realignments.  Right-wing political operatives have co-opted many of the epistemologies and methods traditionally associated with the postpositivist academic left.  A new generation of progressive, critical geographers is doing first-rate work -- like that appearing in this Focus Section -- that is revitalizing the scientific rigor, policy relevance, and political power of the left.  I analyze how this movement of strategic positivism is an integral (but single) element of a pluralist geography that mobilizes trust and deference to synthesize individual specialization and collective goals to build emancipatory geographies.

Abstract: Theories of growth machines and urban regimes have informed the study of urban political economy for more than three decades, but these theories remain focused on intra-urban processes.  Using a case study of the bidding process and the planning of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, we explore the transnational dimensions of the urban growth machine and explore common aspects between the growth machine and regime theory literature and the literatures on the entrepreneurial city and transnational urban policy transfers.  Through its evolving networks with other urban regimes, Vancouver's growth machine provides a ready forum in which local elites can acquire specialized knowledge on new urban entrepreneurial strategies elsewhere.  Actors situated in different parts of the local growth machine are establishing various connections with urban regimes in other cities, in what is best understood as a nascent growth machine diaspora.  Growth machine and regime theories remain valid in their basic conceptualization and maintain their strength through their adaptability to various contexts, but can be enriched by analyses of policy circuits, traveling theories and learning networks.

Abstract: Research and policy on the geography of assisted housing is dominated by a powerful conventional wisdom:  Project-based subsidies are presumptively bad because they anchor assisted households in poor, racially segregated neighborhoods, while vouchers are inherently good because they promote deconcentration and integration through tenant choice.  Unfortunately, this concensus is based on geographical assumptions that have been subverted by the dramatic restructuring of cities with tight housing markets over the last generation.  In this study, we use the case of New York City to analyze these spatial contradictions.  Project-based subsidized housing is disappearing from yesterday's poor neighborhoods that have been remade by gentrification at the urban core, while recipients of Housing Choice Vouchers are concentrated in today's poor neighborhoods of color farther from the city center.  If the policy goal is to break the link between housing assistance and the stereotypes of "projects" in the worst neighborhoods, then in the case of tight, expensive urban housing markets, voucher-driven deconcentration will be less successful than the preservation of the existing project-based housing stock.

Abstract: American mortgage markets, once arenas of discrimination by exclusion, now operate as venues of segmentation and discrimination by inclusion:  credit is widely available, but its terms vary enormously.  One market segment involves sophisticated predatory practices in which certain groups of borrowers are targeted for high-cost credit that strips out home equity and worsens the risks of delinquency, default, and foreclosure.  Unfortunately, it has become more difficult to measure inequalities of predatory lending:  race-ethnicity and gender are 'disappearing' from the main public data source used to study, organize, and mobilize on issues of lending inequalities.  In this paper, we present a mixed-methods case study of statistical representation of homeowners and homebuyers marginalized by race, ethnicity, and gender.  A theoretical examination of official data-collection practices is followed by a discussion of alternative meanings of racial-ethnic and gender nondisclosure.  Interviews with a sample of homeowners and homebuyers in the Washington, DC, area reveal some respondent ambivalence about the details of data-collection practices, but provide no consistent support for the idea that nonreporting is solely a matter of individual choice.  Econometric analyses indicate that nondisclosure is driven primarily by lending-industry practices, with the strongest disparate impacts in African-American suburbs.  Predatory lending is producing ambivalent spaces of racial-ethnic and gender invisibility, requiring new strategies in the reinvestment movement.

Abstract:  This paper examines the housing conditions, needs and trajectories of recent new- comers to Canada, by focusing on the first few months of their adjustment process. Until now, most research in this field has been unable to provide a comprehensive description of this early stage of settlement. Employing individual survey data from the first wave of Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC), we draw a portrait of immigrant and refugee residential out- comes as observed six months after arrival. In particular, we highlight five novel insights, centered around the rapidity with which newcomers in general enter the housing market, but also around the appreciable variability of outcomes in tenure status, class of entry, metropolitan area of settlement, and assessment by newcom- ers of their situation in the housing market. We conclude with a discussion of the significance of these variegated findings for the settlement experience of recently arrived immigrants and refugees and, more broadly, for social policy in the areas of housing and newcomer integration.

Abstract: Predatory home mortgage lending has become a central concern for housing research, public policy, and community activism in US cities.  Regulatory attempts to stop abuses, however, are undermined by claims that 'predatory' cannot be defined or distinguished from legitimate subprime lending, and claims that the industry performs a public service by meeting the needs of low-income, high-risk consumers (many of them racially marginalized) who would have been denied credit in previous years.  We evaluate these claims in historical-geographical context, drawing on David Harvey's theory of class-monopoly rent to analyse what is new (and what is not) in contemporary financial exploitation.  We use a mixed-methods approach to (1) provide econometric measures of subprime racial targeting and disparate impact that cannot be blamed on the supposed deficiencies of borrowers, (2) qualitatively assess the rationale for judging particular subprime practices and lenders as predatory, and (3) trace the connections between local practices and transnational investment networks.  The fight against predatory lending cannot succeed, we argue, without a renewed analytical and strategic emphasis on the class dimensions of financial exploitation and racial-geographical discrimination.

Abstract: Displacement has been at the centre of heated analytical and political debates over gentrification and urban change for almost 40 years.  A new generation of quantitative research has provided new evidence of the limited (and sometimes counter-intuitive) extent of displacement, supporting broader theoretical and political arguments favouring mixed-income redevelopment and other forms of gentrification.  This paper offers a critical challenge to this interpretation, drawing on evidence from a mixed-methods study of gentrification and displacement in New York City.  Quantitative analysis of the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey indicates that displacement is a limited yet crucial indicator of the deepening class polarisation of urban housing markets; moreover, the main buffers against gentrification-induced displacement of the poor (public housing and rent regulation) are precisely those kinds of market interventions that are being challenged by advocates of gentrification and dismantled by policy-makers.  Qualitative analysis based on interviews with community organisers and residents document the continued political salience of displacement and reveals an increasingly sophisticated and creative array of methods used to resist displacement in a policy climate emphasising selective deregulation and market-oriented social policy.

Abstract:  The strategic mobilization of images, visual metaphors, and other forms of graphical rhetoric has always been central in place promotion.  Images of place have assumed even greater importance, however, with the rise of locational tournaments of cities bidding for the "right" to host high-stakes transnational spectacles.  In this paper, we adapt Harvey Molotch's pioneering theory of the urban growth machine to illuminate the contemporary enterprise of city bids for the Olympic Games.  Taking Vancouver's successful bid for the 2010 Winter Games as a case study, we use a visual methodology framework to analyze the manifest (explicit, surface) and latent (implicit, subtle) visual narrative strategies used to craft a carefully considered representation of the city.  Our analysis of the official Bid Questionnaire and the video presentation to the International Olympic Committee documents the sophisticated process by which a city is constructed to embody pristine urban nature, multicultural social harmony, and vibrant local cultures of sport in keeping with the spirit of Olympism.  Whether imagined cities like this are effective is irrelevant:  cities understand that half of their advertising budget is wasted (they just don't know which half).  The expanding symbolic economies of tourism, conventions, and hallmark events require that urban growth machines develop and operate a full suite of image creation machines, each attuned to the ral and perceived desires of an elusive transnational audience in a perpetual movable feast of locational consumption.

Abstract:  For two generations, urbanists have analyzed how residential mortgage lending reflects and reinforces inner-city inequality.  Yet the basic dichotomies of this literature have been eroded by parallel developments in community organizing, public policy, and restructuring of financial services.  Securitization, institutional structure, and increasingly sophisticated market segmentation have altered the relationship between mortgage capital and the inner city, redrawing patterns of exclusionary redlining into more complicated, stratified inclusion into prime and subprime reinvestment flows.  In this article, we analyze lending dynamics in neighborhoods at the nexus between gentrified reinvestment and enduring poverty in 23 large U.S. cities.  A strong, sustained resurgence of capital investment is woven together with enduring racial-ethnic exclusion that cannot be blamed on borrower deficiencies.  Institutional restructuring and secondary-market linkages reinforce newer class and racial-ethnic inequalities through subprime segmentation:  Lenders' willingness to serve black borrowers, for instance, is becoming closely associated with subprime specialization.

Abstract: Since the late 1980s, mutually reinforcing trends in economic growth, public policy, and community activism have fostered a wave of residential mortgage lending to 'underserved markets' in US cities.  Yet many of the changes in housing finance that supported sustainable home ownership also lured a new generation of subprime and predatory credit institutions specialising in high-cost, high-risk lending.  For many urban and minority neighbourhoods, the old problems of exclusionary redlining are now accompanied by new dilemmas of exploitive greenlining.  This paper analyzes the market penetration of subprime lending institutions and the subsequent concentration of mortgage 'pre-foreclosures' in low- and moderate-income, African American neighbourhoods.  Focusing on Newark, NJ, and its surrounding suburbs, Gary King's ecological inference technique and a series of logistic regression models are used to assess the role of borrower characteristics, institutional divisions, and neighbourhood context in the process of mortgage market segmentation.  The evidence corroborates theories emphasising the dynamics of capital investment, financial services restructuring, and the economic incentives for racial-geographic targeting, and not the presumed credit deficiencies of urban and minority home owners.  Unfortunately, the tidy empirical analysis offered here is overshadowed by the enormous societal experiment now underway across the US, as a wave of delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures undermines the belated minority home ownership gains achieved during the unprecedented boom of the 1990s.

A contribution to a symposium discussing Brian J.L. Berry's landmark "Geographies of the United States in the Year 2000," a futuristic speech published back in 1970.

Abstract: Recent discussions of the ‘geography of gentrification’ highlight the need for comparative analysis of the nature and consequences of inner-city transformation. In this paper, the authors map the effects of housing-market and policy changes in the 1990s, focusing on 23 large cities in the USA. Using evidence from field surveys and a mortgage-lending database, they measure the class selectivity of gentrification and its relation to processes of racial and ethnic discrimination. They find a strong resurgence of capital investment in the urban core, along with magnified class segregation. The boom of the 1990s and policies targeted towards ‘new markets' narrowed certain types of racial and ethnic disparities in urban credit markets, but there is evidence of intensified discrimination and exclusion in gentrified neighborhoods.

Abstract: Researchers can choose from a wide variety of data sources to measure the dynamics of production, consumption, and change in America's housing stock.  Yet there have been few systematic comparisons of housing and household characteristics across data sets.  Such considerations typically appear when differences in survey sampling, database content, or question wording are invoked to explain unexpected or inconsistent results.  We describe differences of nine data sets commonly used in housing research and provide an empirical analysis of differences among the American Housing Survey, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the National Survey of Families and Households, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.  The analysis compares selected financial and demographic characteristics by household tenure.  Although demographic characteristics such as age of householder and household size generally are comparable across data sets, there are considerable and statistically significant differences for important financial characteristics.

Abstract:  The structured inequalities of capital investment and disinvestment are prominent themes in critical urban and regional research, but many accounts portray ‘capital’ as a global, faceless and placeless abstraction operating according to a hidden, unitary logic. Sweeping political-economic shifts in the last generation demonstrate that capital may shape urban and regional processes in many different ways, and each of these manifestations creates distinct constraints and opportunities. In this paper, we analyze a new institutional configuration in the USA that is reshaping access to wealth among the poor – a policy ‘consensus’ to expand home-ownership among long-excluded populations. This shift has opened access to some low- and moderate-income households, and racial and ethnic minorities, but the necessary corollary is a greater polarization between those who are able to own and those who are not. We provide a critical analysis of these changes, drawing on national housing finance statistics as well as a multivariate analysis of differences between owners and renters in the 1990s in New York City. As home-ownership strengthens its role as a privatized form of stealth urban and housing policy in the USA, its continued expansion drives a corresponding reconstruction of its value for different groups, and inscribes a sharper axis of property-rights inequalities among owners and renters in the working classes.

Abstract:  Homeownership is widely regarded as the foundation of neighborhood stability and long-term wealth accumulation for American families. In turn, home-purchase mortgage lending has become a central policy instrument in efforts to broaden access to homeownership among underserved populations. This study presents a nationwide empirical analysis of the potential and limitations of mortgage innovation to increase homeownership among underserved populations.We examine the financial and underwriting criteria of a typology of mortgage products, and we develop synthetic underwriting models calibrated with 1993–95 Survey of Income and Program Participation data to account for all direct purchase costs (including itemized components of closing costs and down payments). Our analysis provides comprehensive estimates of a large, untapped market, but even the most aggressive mortgage market innovations can play only a limited role in efforts to deliver the material benefits of homeownership to underserved populations.

Abstract:  Recent scholarship on race and ethnicity has unpacked taken-for-granted categories of difference and the processes of social construction of racialized identities. In the USA, however, legal and policy frameworks established during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s are based on problematic, rei.ed categories of race and ethnicity. Yet these frameworks have opened limited opportunities for activist challenges, and among the most successful is the community reinvestment movement, a broad alliance of local groups using simple quantitative analysis of public data and strategic essentialist tactics to win major victories against racial discriminatory mortgage lenders. In this paper, we analyse recent trends that have undermined procedures used to collect the racial data used by reinvestment activists , regulators and housing researchers . The second-largest racial/ ethnic group among US home loan applicants is now of.cially known as ‘information not provided,’ and non-reporting varies widely across different cities. We analyse the causes of this disappearance and its metropolitan contingency, using multivariate models to evaluate theories of consumer choice and lending industry segmentation. The disappearance of race stems primarily from structural changes in housing .nance, including the emergence of a new breed of aggressive , high-risk subprime and predatory lenders; but distinctive contextual factors persist in the emergence of a complex urban system of racially ‘invisible’ homeowners and homebuyers. The erosion of racial data creates an accidental epistemology, threatening the progressive potential of strategic essentialism for activists and scholars while offering none of the emancipatory possibilities of social constructionist theories of race.

Abstract:  In the past 25 years, housing researchers, governmental regulators, industry advocates, and community activists have all relied on a unified analytical infrastructure that was developed in the 1970s to monitor racial and geographic inequalities in U.S. housing markets. Since the mid-1990s, however, several developments in the housing finance sector have undermined a key element of this system: data collected under the auspices of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975. The second-largest racial-ethnic group among mortgage loan applicants is now officially designated as “information not provided.” In this article, we analyze the causes and geography of this disappearance and its consequences for civil rights enforcement, academic research on redlining and discrimination, and community activism. Our analysis is simultaneously a cautionary narrative of the steady erosion of a valuable public data system and a strategic intervention intended to salvage the empirical contributions of the data for interdisciplinary research, community right-to-know purposes, and public policy development. Using Atlanta, Georgia, as a case study, we marshal a suite of multivariate techniques to disentangle the geographic, individual, and institutional factors responsible for the rise in unreported applications. We also devise a simple method to estimate the “true” racial and ethnic composition of the pool of unknown applicants. The contributions of this endeavor are mediated by the political and epistemological problems of racialization and categorical reification.

Abstract:  "The Color of Money," a series of articles published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May 1988 (Dedman 1988), documented persistent barriers in access to mortgage credit in Atlanta's African-American neighborhoods.  Wyly and Holloway (1999) updated the original study with recent data and found that during the intervening decade traditional lenders still exhibited many of the same patterns that prompted concern in the 1980s.  We extend the analysis here (1) by using applicant-level Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data not available for the original study and (2) by proposing and empirically examining a hypothesis about the geographically contingent influence of applicant race on loan application denial probabilities.

Probability models that explicitly incorporate cross-level interactions between neighborhood racial and income characteristics and an applicant-level racial identifier support the hypothesized effects.  Results are at least partially consistent with traditional redlining arguments, arguments highlighting unintended effects of spatially targeted policy efforts to expand minority and low-income homeownership, and arguments that posit exclusionary discrimination by lenders in predominantly white suburban communities.

Abstract: This article presents an interpretive progress report on the neighborhood-level effects of homeownership policy. The expansion of targeted lending initiatives has created unprecedented opportunities for ownership among low- to moderate-income (LMI) families, racial and ethnic minorities, and other populations once excluded from the nation's mainstream housing finance system. The article uses a two-stage strategy to provide a more accurate progress report on efforts to expand LMI homeownership.

First, it uses home-purchase data for the 40 largest metropolitan regions to identify a set of “best-case” neighborhoods that experienced the greatest quantitative increase in LMI lending during the middle 1990s. Second, it assesses the nature of these places qualitatively. The approach allows one to evaluate the degree to which increased LMI lending provides genuine opportunities for affordable homeownership—or unleashes other processes that conflict with the goals of affordability and sustainable neighborhood development.

Abstract: The recession of the early 1990s drew widespread attention to rising poverty and fiscal distress in inner-ring suburbs, and the next downturn will doubtless revive fears that suburbia could endure the same fate as the inner city.  The authors challenge conventional urban theory, which explains suburban decline primarily in terms of who moves in and who moves out, by drawing on the literatures concerning the circulation of capital in the built environment.  They present a case study analyzing the systematic withdrawal of capital from neighborhoods southeast of Philadelphia, where suburban decline has been dubbed the "Camden Syndrome."  Multivariate analysis of mortgage lending decisions between 1993 and 1998 is used to test the hypothesis that suburban decline cannot be explained solely in terms of the supposed deficiencies of new residents.

Abstract: The US economic recovery of the 1990s accelerated amidst privatization, selective devolution and the reinvention of the public sector itself.  Simultaneously, mortgage finance and assisted housing policy were recast in terms of market processes, individual responsibility and private home-ownership, even as gentrification enjoyed a dramatic resurgence.  The intersection of these seemingly unrelated processes signifies and important transformation of the American inner city.  Nowhere are these connections more explicit than in Chicago, where newly devolved and flexible policy infrastructures are built on the ashes of prominent experiments of previous generations.  In this paper we use Chicago as a context to explore the linkages between reinvestment, housing finance and the reinvention of assisted housing.  We analyze local and federal developments in assisted housing policy and develop a multivariate analysis of mortgage loans in Chicago's neighbourhoods during the 1990s expansion.  New constructions of scale in assisted housing, exemplified by Chicago's Lake Park Place and the federal HOPE VI programme, constitute a centripetal devolution mediated by the relationship between public policy and local private market forces.  National changes in housing finance have altered historical processes of redlining, disinvestment, and gentrification.  Mortgage capital, traditionally responsible for the creation or exacerbation of rent gaps, now lubricates the flow of capital into the gentrifying frontier of the inner city.  The intensified market discipline of housing policy, based partly on theories incubated in Chicago, suggests a new regime of neighbourhood change in the American inner city.

Abstract:  For many observers, the recession of the early 1990s signaled the end of what Berry called islands of renewal in seas of decay.  In the past decade, however, shifts in mortgage finance have intersected with developments in assisted housing to alter the links between gentrification and housing policy.  In this article, we use field observation, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, and HOPE VI plans to analyze the resurgence of gentrification in eight U.S. cities.

Between 1992 and 1997, gentrified neighborhoods attracted conventional home-purchase mortgage capital at a rate that grew at more than 2.3 times the suburban rate.  Logit models confirm that mortgage capital favors gentrified neighborhoods even after controlling for applicant and loan characteristics, suggesting a new relationship between mortgage lending and neighborhood change.  In some cities, gentrification has surrounded islands of decay and poverty with landscapes of renewal and wealth.

          Commentaries by

Abstract: In 1988, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published "The Color of Money," an influential series examining mortgage redlining in Atlanta.  The articles documented wide lending disparities between white and black neighborhoods of similar income levels.  Given sweeping changes in housing finance since 1988, we seek to determine whether Atlanta's racial geographic disparities in mortgage lending have changed.

Analysis of 1992 to 1996 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data reveals slight improvement.  Atlanta's depository lenders made 4.2 times as many conventional home purchase loans per owner-occupied unit to middle-income white neighborhoods as they did to middle-income black neighborhoods; a decade earlier, this ratio was 5.2.  Nondepositories post lower ratios, particularly for Federal Housing Administration-insured loans, but this market segment raises concerns because of potential abuses.  By the indicator of most enduring theoretical and policy interest -- conventional home purchase lending by depositories -- the patterns that aroused concern a decade ago are still evident today.

Abstract:  Recent inquiry in urban studies highlights the dynamic restructuring of urban areas, with new elements of the landscape taken as reflections of sweeping economic and sociocultural change.  American cities are portrayed as "galactic" and "restless" manifestations of global and national industrial restructuring, widening income inequality, demographic shifts, and the cultural sensibilities of new class formations.  Yet the persistence of residential segregation and suburban development processes provide reminders of the historical continuity of American urban form.  This paper critically evaluates continuity and change in the urban landscape, drawing on feminist urban research and theories of residential differentiation to analyze changes in spatial segregation among families and households.  I apply the methods of the classical factorial ecology literature to a special census tabulation that controls for tract boundary changes between 1980 and 1990.  The analysis focuses on Minneapolis-St. Paul, which exemplifies processes of industrial restructuring and suburban development and an unusually high rate of female labor force participation.  Results indicate that urban demographic trends have inscribed increasingly complex patterns of neighborhood segregation.  The delayed childbearing, increased employment, and high household incomes of married women of the baby boom generation have altered the 1960s "family status" construct.  I offer a theory of the "public household" to illuminate this transformation, which entails an erosion of the boundaries between markets and family life as households confront the contradictions of suburban built environments.  The foundations of residential differentiation display remarkable continuity, and the public household is rooted in long-term demographic trends, widening inequality, and increasing consumption standards driven by postwar suburbanization and housing policy.  Ultimately, restlessness in the urban landscape is a story of dynamic stability, as turbulent social and institutional change reflects the struggles of workers and families adjusting to the imperatives of life in a low-density urban environment.

Abstract:  Recent criticisms of the coherence of theories of gentrification, the potential for its continued expansion in the 1990s, and methods for assessing its extent and significance have cast doubt on the utility of further research on the subject. This paper presents an empirical analysis of how gentrification altered the socioeconomic profile of the inner areas of four US cities between 1960 and 1990. Field surveys are conducted to delineate areas of visible housing reinvestment in Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Washington, DC. Stepwise discriminant analysis of tract-level census data indicates that the degree to which gentrification reverses the urban status gradient is mediated by the context in which the process occurs. While restricted in magnitude, gentrification inscribes remarkably similar changes in socioeconomic composition in different cities and signifies a new and distinct dimension of urban socio-spatial structure.

Abstract:  This study analyzes the reciprocal relationships between place and labor market segmentation by focusing on occupational sex segregation in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  On the one hand, employment maps confirm that segmentation produces distinctive places:  The slotting of women and men into different lines of work inscribes fine-grained spatial labor submarkets in different parts of the metropolis.  On the other hand, logistic regression analyses confirm that place matters in segmentation processes:  Workplace location significantly influences the likelihood of occupational sex segregation even after controlling for human capital and residential location factors.  Occupational desegregation has advanced most rapidly with the emergence of new opportunities in suburban growth corridors.  Continued suburban expansion and industrial restructuring promise increasing complexity of spatial mismatch and spatial segmentation and demand that employment policy incorporate issues of space, place, and scale.

Abstract: Strong job growth, a vigorous bull market, and other indicators are taken by many as evidence that the Nation is healthy and well positioned for the next century. Yet in recent decades income inequality has widened, poverty rates have remained high even during economic expansions, and disparities between cities and suburbs have grown more pronounced than ever before.  In this article we draw on the Center for Urban Policy Research “State of the Nation’s Cities” database to document 10 prominent changes affecting large cities in the past 30 years. We show how the technological change, globalization, demographic trends, and selective flows of people, jobs, and wealth have magnified inequality at the regional, metropolitan, and neighborhood levels. Particularly for older industrial cities, the processes driving national growth continue to reinforce inequalities in opportunity for individuals and communities.

Abstract:   This study analyzes commuting trends in a relatively vibrant setting during the 1980s to determine (a) how labor market segmentation correlates with differences in the spatial dimensions of local labor markets, and (b) whether this link represents a direct spatial effect, independent of earnings, travel mode, and part-time work. I use 1980 and 1990 PUMS data to analyze changes in racial and gender divisions in the workforce, and I develop an estimate of work trip distance to adjust for different travel modes. For all groups except white men, employment in a job “typical” of one's gender and racial group is associated with more localized commutes, but this effect is strongly mediated by variations in earnings and part-time work. Using a covariance structure model to control for these effects, I find no independent link between segmentation and longer commutes among African Americans. Earnings and commute distances remained unchanged over the decade for African Americans, providing no evidence of a purely spatial mismatch manifest in lengthening work trips without corresponding wage gains. The spatial dimensions of an employment mismatch for inner-city minorities are concealed through the replacement of production jobs by poorly paid service work in the expanding downtown economy of a vibrant regional center.

Abstract:  Empirical research on gentrification suffers from a dichotomy between richly detailed neighborhood case studies and macro-scale, census-based analyses, perpetuating uncertainty over the extent and timing of gentrified areas in American cities. We develop a model relating tract-level census statistics to the results of a detailed field survey of 24 census tracts in Minneapolis-St. Paul. We use stepwise and canonical discriminant analysis to select nine variables distinguishing gentrified neighborhoods and to classify all central-city tracts for each decade between 1960 and 1990. Results indicate a moderate level of overall accuracy, and the model is more than 90% accurate in distinguishing areas of heavy reinvestment from stable, middle-class districts. Compared with other techniques, our approach more accurately distinguishes gentrification from other types of inner-city redevelopment, providing a useful tool for identifying the phenomenon with a measurable degree of precision.



I am an urban geographer. My research is concerned with the nexus between public policy and private market forces in urban housing and labor markets in North American cities, with a special emphasis on the socio-political inequalities of United States urbanism.  I examine this connection through empirical, quantitative analysis in four distinct but complementary areas of inquiry:

  • The spatial constitution of racial and gender inequality in urban housing and labor markets.
  • Continuity and change in practices of racial and ethnic discrimination in mortgage lending.
  • Evolving systems of residential capital investment and inner-city neighborhood change.
  • The role and geographical scale of urban policy in the context of federal devolution and global political-economic restructuring.

A central theme that unites all of this research is the close association between social and spatial inequality as workers and households confront market forces.  Consequently, my work is part of a tradition that challenges two prevalent dualisms.  The first is geographical:  analysts typically study how space and place influence and mediate social processes, or they emphasize how geographies are the outcome of social and institutional dynamics.   A second dichotomy recurs throughout public policy and urban studies:  'public' decisions are typically regarded as the domain of formalized politics and institutional configurations, while 'private' actions are viewed as the collective outcome of innumerable decisions by economic actors in dynamic market relationships.   I view both of these dichotomies as unfortunate constraints on our understanding of current rounds of socio-economic and urban change, and my research programs attempt to move beyond such divisions to examine policy questions at the blurred divisions between public and private, market and policy.

Interested in more detail?  An extended statment of research, teaching, and service from several years ago is here and a more recently updated version is here.

Working Papers, Commentaries, Drafts, Notes, Outlines, Brainstorms, Scribbles, Ink-marks on coffee-and-wine-stained receipts and bar napkins...
Scribbles, Draft 1, Geoforum version
Commentary at “Where’s the Value? Emerging Digital Economies of Geolocation,” panel discussion at AAG 2015, Chicago, with Jeremy Crampton, Rob Kitchin, Agnieszka Leszczynski, and Julie Cupples.  The full panel discussion is documented on Jeremy Crampton's Open Geography forum, here and the audio of our discussion is here.
Revised and updated, and eventually published in a housing anthology edited by Christopher Neidt.  The essay is co-authored with James Mumm, Director of Organizing for National People's Action.
With Tyler Pearce; commentary on David Imbroscio's provocative "Shaming the Inside Game" article
  • Janus Buys a House
Comments at the New Mexico Governor's Housing Summit
With Kristy Lavin, December 2001, revised February 2002
We are flattered and privileged that this article has been read by students in several courses:  "Urban Geography," taught by Professor Sandra Zupan, University of Kentucky, Spring 2011; "Community Scholars," Urban Planning 217A, taught by Professors Jacqueline Leavitt and Gilda Haas, UCLA School of Public Affairs, Winter 2007; "Challenges to Urban Sustainability," Urban Planning 880, taught by Chris De Sousa, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Spring 2006; "Housing and Urban Policy Planning," Urban Planning 473, taught by Lisa Bates, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, Fall 2006; "Affordable Housing Policy," Community and Regional Planning 388-3, taught by Elizabeth Mueller, School of Architecture, University of Texas, Spring 2007; "Affordable Housing Policy and Programs," Community and Regional Planning 343/643, taught by Rolf Pendall, Cornell University, Fall 2006; and "Urban Research Design," European Master in Comparative Urban Studies, taught by Wim Ostendorf, Amsterdam University, Netherlands, Summer 2006.

CopyLeft 2017 Elvin K. Wyly
Except where otherwise noted, this site is
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Subprime Goes Primetime

August 1, 2007.  For years, a group of folks have been studying the inequalities and dangers of subprime mortgage loans.  It's a diverse group of community activists, practicing attorneys, law school professors, sociologists, economists, policy analysts, ... and a few geographers as well.  Unfortunately, the warnings issued by these specialists beginning in the late 1990s were ignored:  regulators and legislators failed to step in to stop an abusive industry that was extracting billions of dollars of excessive fees and draining home equity from vulnerable homeowners and homebuyers, and finding ever more sophisticated ways of making profits from the most unhealthy, dangerous transactions -- including loans destined for quick default and foreclosure.

On my shelf I have a collection of issues of American Foreclosures and Auctions, which includes mailing addresses of people who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments -- and the magazine also has template letters that you can use to send to those folks:  "We realize that you and your family may be going through a difficult time and there may be a way that we can help you.  If you are looking for a buyer for your property we would be interested in discussing this with you at your convenience.  Please contact me at (your telephone number).  At this time, it is important to know that you do not have to be alone in this situation.  There just may be someone who can help you."  These practices have been underway for many years.  This template letter is from the July, 1999 issue of American Foreclosures and Auctions.

But now subprime has gone prime time, as investors discover the horrid details of predatory abuses that have been going on for so many years, hidden behind the strange language of accounting and structured finance -- yield-spread premiums, prepayment penalties, collateralized debt obligations, special-purpose vehicles, senior and subordinate tranches, and the like.  Wall Street endured substantial slips in late February, 2007, and then again in late July, when anxiety over the subprime risks in several hedge funds mortgage insurers shaved about a trillion dollars of market capitalization within two days.  "Subprime" began showing up on front-page headlines of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and dozens of other outlets.  But the real sign that subprime had entered the national consciousness arrived on August 1, 2007, when Jon Stewart's The Daily Show featured a report by Larry Wilmore (the show's longtime Senior Black Correspondent), who explained "Subprime, that's code, man, it's the financial N-word!"  "Banks have tried to make subprime loans the menthol cigarettes of loans..."

Larry Wilmore explains subprime loans, "the financial N-word," August 1, 2007.  I'm sure this is copyright Comedy Central, but hopefully a simple screen-capture is within the limits of fair use doctrine.
Above and below:  a few random images illustrating key research themes and sites from the urban imaginary.  The graphical rhetoric is inspired in part by sources like Camilo Jose Vergara (1995).  The New American Ghetto.  New Brunswick, NJ:  Rutgers University Press; George McWhirter, ed. (2009).  A Verse Map of Vancouver.  Vancouver:  Anvil Press; and Lori Pauli (2003).  Manufactured Landscapes:  The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky.  Ottawa, New Haven, and London:  National Gallery of Canada and Yale University Press.
The creator's paradox:  you have to believe before you do.  You have to make your own Kool-Aid, but first you have to drink it.
"Our banking system grew by accident.  And wherever something happens by accident, it becomes a religion."  Walter Bigelow Wriston (1919- ), Citibank chairman, 20 January 1975, Newsweek.  Cited in Una McGovern, ed. (2005).  Webster's New World Dictionary of Quotations.  Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley, p. 930.
"Shall I Jump Out of the Window?  Sell!  Sell! Sell!"  The Long Johns (John Bird and John Fortune) explain "market sentiment" and Subprime Lending, October 14, 2007.
Borrowed Metropolis
April 2009

For several years, one of my research interests involved a set of obscure, dangerous practices spreading throughout many cities in the U.S.  Racially marginalized individuals and neighborhoods, excluded for so many years from mainstream credit opportunities, were suddenly being targeted by a new breed of aggressive institutions using deceptive practices to market high-cost "subprime" mortgage loans with hidden fees and abusive terms.  I was rather late to the game when I began studying these problems:  a dedicated, interdisciplinary group of activists, attorneys, and scholars had been documenting and challenging various aspects of this new exploitation since the early 1990s.  And of course these new inequalities reflect and reinforce earlier generations of polarized market and policy injustices.

Even so, this was quite an obscure area of research, with all sorts of quirky acronyms, bizarre industry practices, and tangled legal and regulatory histories.  I became fascinated with this stuff, but most people couldn't care less.  People would drill holes in their heads to let the boredom out when they heard me go on and on about FHA, HMDA, CDOs, Fannie and Freddie, AMTPA, the mezzanine tranche, and the finer points of Regulation C.  Until about two years ago, most people took it for granted that the main injustices of credit involved being turned down -- and most people thought "subprime" meant a below-market interest rate (rather than the industry's condescending label assigned to its victims).  Exploitation was easily ignored so long as it was concentrated among those marginalized by class, race/ethnicity, and gender -- and as long as steadily rising home values allowed industry actors to avoid losses even when loans were destined for quick default and foreclosure.  Fundamentally unhealthy market transactions became profitable, while loans sold on secondary markets began to link local housing markets into  ever-wider transnational circuits of speculative investment and debt.  But now, of course, subprime has gone prime time:  the American Dialect Society voted "subprime" word of the year for 2007, followed by "bailout" for 2008.  The World Press Photograph of the Year for 2008 was awarded for an image of a sheriff's detective with handgun drawn, searching through the living room of an abandoned home in Cleveland, Ohio, after the owners had been evicted.

In my current work I'm struggling to keep up with an unfolding catastrophe that has devastated families and communities while triggering what the IMF now declares the first truly global contraction of international trade since the Second World War.  Three issues are crucial.  First, the crisis has exposed deep fault lines of informational injustice.  Conservative ideologues have been struggling to blame the crisis on government policies that purportedly forced banks to lend to unqualified racial and ethnic minorities.  This is a lie:  if there is racial bias to legislation like the Community Reinvestment Act, it is White privilege.  Non-Hispanic Whites are more than fifty percent more likely to obtain a loan from an institution subject to CRA oversight, while Latinas and Latinos, and African Americans, are targeted by non-bank institutions that specialize in making mortgage loans (especially dangerous mortgage loans).  We can document disparities like this because of a valuable dataset that was created in response to a militant, multiracial organizing movement in the 1970s.  Before then, the industry was able to dismiss critics because there was no information available to document the inequalities of banking practices.  After limited information became available, the industry has consistently sought to weaken the disclosure requirements and discredit the data, which are freely available to anyone who wishes to document the lending practices of particular banks or credit flows to particular communities.  Most recently, the industry fought off attempts to include key information on applicant creditworthiness that would resolve, once and for all, whether lenders can legitimately mount business-necessity defenses against prima facie cases of race discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.  The industry's effort succeeded, and so lobbyists now argue that racial disparities observed in HMDA cannot prove discrimination because the data do not include information on applicant credit.  Under certain conditions, however, the public data can be used to shift the focus from the presumed deficiencies of borrowers to the strategic decisions of lenders, brokers, and investors who have found new ways to profit from discrimination.

Second, the unfolding crisis provides yet another a reminder that the past is not.  Beyond the clear and horrifying parallels with certain types of exploitation in those old dark, satanic mills of a previous century, we can trace the circuits of racial and class inequality to quite specific places.  Mapping and measuring the racial disparities of subprime mortgage capital does not simply highlight today's inner-city African American communities of the largest cities across the U.S.:  it also highlights dozens of obscure, easily-overlooked small cities stretching all the way from the Carolina piedmont to the Mississippi Delta, including many of the towns where du Bois described "a pall of debt" hanging "over the beautiful land" in The Souls of Black Folk (1903).

Third, the subprime catastrophe was -- and is -- a cartography of action, struggle, and mobilization.  Much of contemporary research in human geography is devoted to identifying entities widely understood as 'real,' and exposing their socio-cultural, political, and historical contingencies.  Valuable as it is, this approach doesn't go far enough.  While we can learn a lot by questioning the ontological status of a global credit default swaps market estimated at more than sixty trillion dollars, we also need to imagine and enact new constructions, new facts, new realities.  Law and geography intersect here in fascinating ways, in a turbulent time of risk and opportunity.  The geographies of this crisis were, quite literally, built in and with the spaces of law. Intentional and accidental de-regulation after previous crises combined with the fragmented structure of American banking and American federalism to create post-Cartesian spaces where certain actors were given a free hand to engage in particular kinds of abuses.  When securitization connected local actors to national and transnational capital markets, the result was a re-scaling of racism that allowed all actors to legitimately claim no racist intent.  But the evolving structure of the industry ensured that local racial exploitation would be profitable, and that expanded borrowing and lending would be deeply racialized.

Cartographies of action and struggle are proliferating.  There is a small but growing squatters' movement in which advocates help evicted borrowers reclaim vacant homes that banks, flooded with foreclosures in a collapsing market, cannot sell nor maintain.  Many advocates are working to expand community land trusts and other forms of collective ownership.  The return of adult supervision to Washington, DC has created a brief opening for a new regulatory infrastructure for consumer protection.  A growing number of federal judges are beginning to hold investment banks and trusts to the  same fine-print, sign-on-the-dotted-line standards used for so many years to exploit borrowers.  (It turns out that a lot of large institutions took short cuts and cannot now prove their legal ownership of many loans.)  The City of Cleveland is suing the entire predatory food chain, from brokers to lenders to global-city investment houses, under a public nuisance statute.  The City of Baltimore is suing Wells Fargo for reverse redlining under the Fair Housing Act.  Andrew Cuomo, appealing a case involving an attempt to get internal information on the lending practices of several large national banks long shielded from scrutiny by de-regulatory loopholes and a friendly, pro-market federal agency, managed to get the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Oral arguments were held this week, and I find myself reading the thick transcript for clues on how Souter, Roberts, and Scalia understand the legal definition of regulatory "visitation" under the National Bank Act of 1870, and what  maps they have in their minds as they decide whether the Constitution allows a single Federal agency of the Executive to claim exclusive authority to enforce laws passed by state legislatures.  See?  The past is not past, and I can still inflict a lot of boredom with all these obscure details..."

Coda:  Scalia, writing for the majority, reversed the lower court's decision.  The Rehnquist Federalism era is not quite dead yet...

"...all research, given the way the world is today, must be critical, or it is dishonest..."  Peter Marcuse (2009). Email to Tom Slater et al., November 13.  New York:  School of Architecture and Planning, Columbia University.
More Cognitive Capitalist Combine Harvesting:

"You have the option to pay an article publishing charge (APC) to make the final version of your article freely available online at the point of publication, permanently, for anyone to read (Gold Open Access). Fees for this journal are set at $2,950 / £1,788 / €2,150."

Latest update:

Yet another example of automated (post)positivist acronymical legal innovation an age of turbocharged cognitive-cultural capitalism.

Legal automated po$tpo$itivist disclosures:

"Welcome to the registration page for Taylor & Francis Open Select and Routledge Open Select.  The authors or sponsors can use this option to make an article fully and permanently open access online in one of Taylor & Francis/Routledge's subscription-based journals for a publication fee. ... To begin the registration process, please confirm the details of the article you are registering ..."

"Price:  $2,950."

Source:  Rightslink® by Copyright Clearance Center automated digital torture interface, May 11, 2014.


"I’m pleased to announce a significant and positive development in our policy around Green OA and posting of the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM). The AAM is defined as the manuscript in its accepted, post-peer review form, but not the final published article."

"There is now no embargo on authors posting the AAM to their own personal or departmental websites after publication of the final article. We advocate that a DOI link to the final article is included in the AAM, to direct readers to this version and facilitate citation:
Embargoes are still in place for posting the AAM to institutional repositories and subject repositories such as, as well as Social Scientific Networks (SSNs) such as Mendeley, ResearchGate and We wish authors to be able to disseminate their work as widely as possible but feel that there is an inherent risk of library subscription cancellations if embargoes were entirely lifted. We are keen to explore this hypothesis so are continuing our pilot in Library and Information Science (where authors are permitted to post their AAMs on any site or repository without embargo). Results of this pilot will be communicated in due course. ..."

Source:  David Green (2014).  "Update from the Global Publishing Director, 11 April 2014."  Oxon, UK:  Taylor & Francis.

The Cognitive Ponzi Scheme Continues

The robots apparently have read "Automated (Post)Positivism," and they seem to agree that human cognition can be automated.  They have automatically sent me a request to climb onto to the global communications assembly line, in this case a small branch of the line known as SurveyMonkey.

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Analyzing the contingency of different kinds of racist capital across different U.S. metropolitan areas in the great credit boom of 2002-2008.
Analyzing the speed and spatial autocorrelation of early-stage mortgage defaults in Essex County, New Jersey.
Correlating the exploitations of mortgage capital with State-level attempts to crack down on the worst abuses of predatory lending.
Vancouver's Olympic Village under construction, summer 2008.
A brief snapshot of some current data obsessions on the dynamics of academic competition and letters of recommendation.  Logistic regression models of institutional requirements for recommendations in admissions decisions.
Even More Education Data!
Working with the IPEDS and tax-filer database developed by Raj Chetty and colleagues at Stanford's Equality of Opportunity Project...
More working notes and brainstorms on the "letter of recommendation project," which is also proceeding under the name of "Referential Treatment," in honor of an article written by Fritz Nelson and Briavel Holcomb in the Professional Geographer in the late 1980s.  Here are results from a factorial ecology of data on about two thousand institutions of higher education in the United States, from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
Oooh, I love eigenvalues.  Super-cool, fascinating matrices, even if the inequalities of competition can be quite frightening.  Here is some more details, all eighteen factors of 'em, with a few selective printouts of the top-ranking scores on some of the factors:

I think that factorial ecology above is wrong.  After spending several days carefully wading through the data to interpret things, I've discovered that the solid loadings of the last six variables in the table above -- note how they all go right onto their own set of three distinct factors, with absolutely no relationship to the rest of the rotated factor structure -- is the product of a data error.  The error came from my match-merge of a dataset from the Department of Education, using the Office of Postsecondary Education ID Number:  OPEID.  It turns out that Chetty et al. (2017) developed their own "SuperOPEID" to deal with various technical features of campus organization and reporting configurations. 

Several more days of work to find the error, understand the details of how to 'crosswalk' SuperOPEID and OPEID codes, and re-run the database match-merge, and re-run the factorial ecology, yields this:

August Comte's grave in Paris, viewed through the lens and brilliant perspective of Joe Daniels, delivered via one of the billions of emails sent each day and monitored carefully through the infrastructures of what John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney have analyzed as 'Surveillance Capitalism.'  So long as this site's robots.txt file allows, the Big Data harvesting scripts written in Python and other languages will be reading my words (and your cookies, history, and API callbacks) searching for correlations in what we're reading, watching, thinking...

For more, see "Automated (Post)Positivism"...

Conspiracy Capital

Recent events have required a re-think of all sorts of assumptions about logic, knowledge, and the evolution of "post-truth" politics in the age of Trump.  I've been working on a project exploring the interconnections between cybernetic communications ecosystems, on the one hand, and on the other hand the speedy circulation of conspiracy theories.  Conspiracy theories drove Donald Trump's successful drive for the U.S. Presidency, from his early promotion of the "birther" conspiracy that Barack Obama was a Muslim who was not born in the United States.  After Trump insanely declared in the 2012 race that he was dispatching his own private investigators to seek out the 'truth' about Obama's birth certificate, the comedian Bill Maher provided the very best response to the cognitively-challenged combover-hairplant 'reality' television billionare:  Maher offered a $1 million bounty if Trump could produce a birth certificate proving that he, Trump, was not, in fact, born an Orangutan.

After Trump began to refer to "so-called" judges when those jurists refused to uphold xenophobic executive orders, I begam referring to so-called "President" Trump as the Gringorangutan.  This is about the same time I began to seriously dig into some of the capabilities of the Digital Methods Initiative, and the open-source tools they generously provide to other researchers.  In particular, their YouTube Data Tools allow us to sketch a glimpse of the  dynamic online ecosystem of videos in an evolutionary environment of human attention.

Here are a few preliminary snapshots, focusing on online video recommendations provided by YouTube's suggestion algorithm after users have viewed Michael Flynn's infamous "Lock Her Up" speech at the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2016.  Below are similar maps of the Alt-Right ecosystem as viewed from Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones.

Here is a very rough draft of some of these ideas in narrative form.

Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability
Urban Environmental Gentrification Workshop
February 15-17, 2017

In this workshop, we will collectively refine a proposed analytic strategy for identifying the relationship between greening and gentrification. Members of the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability will present the results from our initial data collection (after our first five months of work on a five year project) for the GREENLULUS project. Based on a sample of roughly forty cities, this project asks: Does the distribution of new environmental amenities become more or less equitable as cities implement greening agendas? We are initially looking at this question from a large-scale, spatial data-driven, and comparative (US and European) approach. We will follow-up later with targeted qualitative research. During the workshop, we will scrutinize our proposed analytic strategies, including development of a Fair Urban Greening Index, based on the data we are gathering and discussion of the theoretical and practical issues at stake.

DAY ONE: 15 February 2017
MORNING SESSION: The first morning session is designed to provide an update on our work so far. The specific purposes are to (1) summarize the GREENLULUS research project (background materials provided in advance); (2) present and discuss findings and analysis from the Barcelona pilot study (article provided in advance); (3) explain the data that has been gathered during the first 5 months of the project; (4) present and discuss how we define greening; and (5) discuss our initial plans for a Fair Urban Greening Index.

9h15-9h35: Opening remarks, introductions, about BCNEJ and workshop workplan
9h35-9h50: Brief summary of GREENLULUS project
9h50-10h: Questions/brief clarifications
10h00-10h20: Brief presentation of Barcelona pilot study - specific focus on approach,
methodology, and challenges
10h20-10h50: Feedback from colleagues and from the team about the paper
10h50-11h20: Team presentation of city greening inventory
11h20-11h40: Coffee Break
11h40-12h40: Brief presentation on spatial data associated with urban greening; opening discussion on how we define greening in the US and European context
12h40-13h00: Presentation of our preliminary review of other indices
13h00-13h25: Brief presentation on the strategy proposed for developing a Fair Urban
Greening Index + discussion
13h25-14h40: Lunch

AFTERNOON SESSION: The first afternoon session is designed to dive into two major theoretical issues that impacts how we proceed with our research. The specific purposes are to (1) begin the discussion of measuring and defining gentrification within our study (we will come back to this topic tomorrow as well) and (2) discuss analytic strategies developed thus far for measuring the pathways by which health impacts of greening are mediated by gentrification.
14h40-15h40: Broad discussion on definition and measures of gentrification – beginning discussion of how we know if it is green gentrification in particular
15h40-16h15: Discussion on the analysis of pathways by which the impacts of greening on
health are mediated by gentrification
16h15-16h30: Summary of work to date and next steps

DAY TWO: 16 February 2017
MORNING SESSION: The second morning session is designed dig deeper into the issue of parsing out greening as a driver of gentrification from other drivers. The specific purposes are to (1) engage in open discussion about how to measure gentrification impacts across time from numerous perspectives in the context of our project; (2) focus on the development of a Fair Urban Greening Index to enable cross-city comparison and to critically influence policy-making; and (3) discuss interaction effects such as higher level real estate dynamics and large scale redevelopment interventions and how to account for them.
9h30-9h40: Recap from previous day
9h40-10h40: Short presentation followed by a discussion on the relationship of greening with real estate development and financialization
10h40-11h: Coffee Break
11h-12h20: Discuss interaction effects: How do we know it’s green gentrification? Continuing discussion from yesterday on our approach for measuring green gentrification with a focus on developing comparable measures across global north cities. What challenges do we face, including what do we do with very recent green amenities construction or restoration (do we measure risk of displacement somehow or do we leave this for a qualitative analysis in individual case studies)? How do we account for the fact that we will not be able to trace the real movements of residents through the city? How do we parse out blue space/green space?
12h20-13h00: Summary Discussion. Given our discussions on health, gentrification, and
greening, what would an ideal Fair Urban Greening Index look like? Do we need sub-indexes for different regions? What data is out there that we should be including?
13h-14h15: Lunch

AFTERNOON SESSION: The second afternoon session is designed to broaden the discussion by highlighting new directions in research form our PhD students and summarizing the most promising paths forward. The specific purposes are to (1) present emerging areas of research from doctoral students (2) ask for feedback on the major challenges and promising pathways going forward; and (3) offer closing thoughts before the public event the following day.
14h15-15h25: PhD student presentations and feedback
15h25-16h00: Closing discussion on major challenges and promising pathways
16h00-16h30: Closing remarks; thoughts on issues to highlight in the public event the following day

DAY THREE: 17 February 2017
Public Event – Green Inequalities: An inquiry into urban environmental gentrification
9:30 AM: Opening Comments
Isabelle Anguelovski, Autonomous University of Barcelona
9:40 AM: Greening and Urban Health Outcomes
What are the pathways by which urban greening may impact health? What are the impacts of urban greening on health inequities and what policies could help achieve greater and more equitable health benefits?
Charles Agyemang, University of Amsterdam
Jill Litt, University of Colorado Boulder
Helen Cole, Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)-IMIM
Moderator: Isabelle Anguelovski, + Helen Cole Autonomous University of Barcelona
11:05AM-11:25: Coffee break
11:25-12:40PM: To Green or Not to Green?
What are the relationships and connections between sustainability planning, urban greening and gentrification? Do sustainability planning and urban greening cause gentrification and displacement?
Tom Slater, University of Edinburgh
Nuria Benach, University of Barcelona
Moderator: Isabelle Anguelovski, Autonomous University of Barcelona
12:40-2 PM: LUNCH
2:00 PM: Measuring Green Inequalities
How can we measure if greening causes gentrification? How can we measure if the benefits of greening are equitably distributed? What approaches and methodologies can help achieve more sound, solid and significant results?
Hamil Pearsall, Temple University
Elvin Wyly, University of British Columbia
Moderator: James Connolly, Autonomous University of Barcelona
3:15PM-3:30PM: Coffee break
3:30 PM-4:45PM: Green Urban Development
How does urban greening relate to urban real estate and finance dynamics? How does urban greening influence the strategies and practices of real estate developers, investors and other related actors? How are responsibilities and costs shared between public and private sectors?
Rachel Weber, University of Illinois - Chicago
Eric Clark, Lund University
Moderator: Melissa Garcia Lamarca, Autonomous University of Barcelona
4.45-4.55PM: Concluding remarks
Stefan Bouzarovski, University of Manchester
4.55PM-5PM: Closing comments – James Connolly, UAB-IMIM
I'm not on Twitter, but someone smarter than I (Markus Moos) saw this in the twittersphere...
The quantification of the “utility” of scholarly knowledge reflects and reinforces cognitive commodification amidst intensifying individual competition on an expanding terrain of multidimensional measures of distinction. As cognitive capitalism puts intellectual property into the machinery of commodity futures trading markets, we cannot be surprised to see all the familiar financial incentives for speculation, fraud, leverage, and the “collusive behavior” Berry (2000, p. 283) lamented. Some of this behavior, of course, is the familiar algorithmic narcissism that is remaking so much of social life throughout the information society; at the other end of the continuum are colder forms of calculated deception. In the most recent case of explicit fraud designed to capitalize on “citations as measures of worth,” Sage Publications retracted 60 articles from one of its journals after a 14-month investigation of a “peer review and citation ring.” The scheme involved fabricating identities on SageTrack (part of the online referee management systems of the ScholarOne Manuscripts™ system) that enabled an author to use a fraudulent alias to provide anonymous peer review on at least one of his own papers (Baker, 2014). With the escalating incentives to manipulate citations as measures of worth, we see corresponding frontiers in the markets for the management and policing of scholarly identity itself; thus, scholars are now encouraged to register for an “Open Researcher and Contributor ID” (ORCID), a “researcher disambiguation system” backed by an array of informational corporations, universities, and funding agencies that “provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities, ensuring that your work is recognized” (ORCID, 2014).
ORCID Unauthenticated, "Please Do Not Cite This Article."
Cognitive Cartographic Crisis
What happens when you take the science and art of "mental mapping" and apply it to American agnotology?  Can we map a vacuum?  Can we map the mind of misogyny, racism, greed, ignorance, arrogance, and vengeance?
(Public domain image via
Automated Postpositivist WTF
Robotic search engines hooked up to robotic auto-invite systems for annual Quantum World conferences.  Somewhere, Alan Turing is laughing with Stephen Hawking as they talk about the future of automated post-human knowledge production.
March, 2018.
Educational Eugenics

"In the largest genetics study ever published in a scientific journal, an international team of scientists on Monday identified more than a thousand variations in human genes that influence how long people stay in school."  Zimmer (2018)

In Planetary Kantsaywhere, we documented the intensification of competitive meritocracies that are creating a global competitive race towards perfection.  Our invocation of the godfather of eugenics -- it was Francis Galton's stillborn novel, The Eugenic College of Kantsaywhere, that inspired our title -- might have seemed a bit far-fetched.

Perhaps.  But there's now some remarkable, breathtaking research that seeks to correlate educational outcomes with ... genetic tests from 23andMe.  Really.  I Am Not Making This Up.

Read and compare:

Kathryn Paige Harden (2018).  "Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education."  New York Times, July 24.

Carl Zimmer (2018).  "Many Genes Play a Role in Educational Attainment, Enormous Genetic Study Finds."  New York Times, July 23.

Elvin Wyly and Jatinder Dhillon (2018).  "Planetary Kantsaywhere:  Cognitive Capitalist Universities and Accumulation by Cognitive Dispossession."  City 22(1), 130-151.

Visualizing the YouTube recommendations to viewers who watched Trump's final rally before the November, 2018 midterm election, in Port Girardeu, Missouri.  Bubble sizes scaled proportional to viewcount; the largest bubble, with more than 87 million views, is a Live Feed from the International Space Station on "Astronomy Day 2018."  Bubble colors are coded according to the ratio of "dislikes" to "likes"; for the ISS live feed, this ratio is 5.4 percent.  The Fox News feed for Trump's Port Girardeau received a bit more than 26 thousand views by the next morning, with a dislike ratio of 3.8 percent.  Click on the image for a PDF file with all the detailed labels in all their chaotic glory.
Judge Red Solo Cup

Not long ago, the comedian Bill Maher called Brett Kavanaugh "Judge Red Solo Cup," as a sly way of lampooning Brett's wild prep-school days of drinking lots of beer and (allegedly) committing attempted rape.  Steve Bannon spoke about defending the historical achievements of Western Civilization and the Westphalian nation-state system in a speech at Oxford Union.  The actor Matt Damon played Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday Night Live.  Toby Keith's party-song, "Red Solo Cup," connects them all.