Articles | Volume 69, issue 2
Geogr. Helv., 69, 79–88, 2014

Special issue: Urban inequality

Geogr. Helv., 69, 79–88, 2014

Standard article 22 Jul 2014

Standard article | 22 Jul 2014

The global trope and urban redevelopment: the American experience

D. Wilson D. Wilson
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Geography, 607 South Matthews Avenue, Urbana, Il 61801, USA

Abstract. This paper examines a new "political opportunity structure" in United States Rust Belt cities – globalization – currently being used by redevelopment governances. An investigation of two cities reveals that this discourse ("the global trope") has helped to produce a new socio-spatial polarization in US cities. Globalization here is now not merely a new reality, but also a powerful rhetorical device whose invoking is proving to be a potent political tool for capital in its drive to transform cities. At this rhetoric's core, a supposed new hyper-competitive reality makes Rust Belt cities easily discardable as places of investment. These once-enclosed containers of "the economic", in the rhetoric, have recently become leaky landscapes rife with a potential for economic hemorrhaging. Against this supposed reality, cities are portrayed as beset by a kind of accumulation disorder that now haunts them. Through this, the new governmentality's dominant contours – a proposed shock treatment of re-regulation – is rationalized. This generates a new uneven development across US cities that marginalizes low-income African-American communities.

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