Property as Technology: Temporary Entanglements of Race, Space, and Displacement
Authored by #UnequalCities Network member Erin McElroy

Abstract: This article considers how private property functions as a technology of racial dispossession upon gentrifying terrains, particularly in San Francisco amidst its ‘Tech Boom 2.0.’ By engaging with collective work produced with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), by reading the film, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and by foregrounding critical race studies and urban studies literature, I decenter the novelty of technology in contemporary times. Rather, I consider how property itself has long served as a technology of racial dispossession, constituting a palimpsest for the contemporary gentrifying moment. This, I suggest, is particularly pertinent in theorizing the anti-Blackness of Tech 2.0 urbanism and its new instantiations of property technology, platform real estate, residential surveillance, eviction, and speculation. Thus, I argue that studies of techno-urbanism would do well to consider temporalities outside of their often-reified present. Yet at the same time, I look to community-based projects such as the AEMP which seek to repurpose geospatial technologies and data in order to produce emancipatory propertied futures, for instance, those of expropriation and decommodification. How might studies produced outside of the academy and the real estate industry alike serve as technologies for housing justice? How might practices such as these act as counterweights to property as a technology of racial dispossession?

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