Modern urban planning has long promised to improve the quality of human life. But how is human life defined? Displacing Blackness develops a unique critique of urban planning by focusing, not on its subservience to economic or political elites, but on its efforts to improve people’s lives.
While focused on twentieth-century Halifax, Displacing Blackness develops broad insights about the possibilities and limitations of modern planning. Drawing connections between the history of planning and emerging scholarship in Black Studies, the book positions anti-blackness at the heart of contemporary city-making.
Moving through a series of important planning initiatives, from a social housing project concerned with the moral and physical health of working-class residents to a sustainability-focused regional plan, Displacing Blackness shows how race – specifically blackness – has defined the boundaries of the human being and guided urban planning, with grave consequences for the city’s Black residents.
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“An exciting, provocative, and important book … This book brings together Foucault and Fanon to indict planning as a form of ‘anti-blackness’, understood not in terms of its racist and exclusionary effects, or as a narrow form of prejudice, but rather based on the manner in which modern planning advances a model of the ‘human’ that evicts (normatively, symbolically and materially) black humanity from its core … [A]n original and unsettling analysis of urban planning.” – Nicholas Blomley, Simon Fraser University
“Displacing Blackness … shows how 20th urban planning and renewal initiatives purposely excluded, oppressed, and harmed Black people, including residents in Africville, North Preston, and the North End. Augmented by the work of a diverse range of Black scholars spanning the continent, this book locates Canadian anti-Blackness in very inconspicuous intimate spaces and state policies.” – African American Intellectual History Society “Best Books of 2018”