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Custom Contestations: Lowriders and Urban Space

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Abstract

This article examines the production of space and contestation of spatial governmentality that occurs in the everyday cruising practices of lowrider car customizers in Austin, Texas. Lowrider style, practiced mostly, but not exclusively, by Mexican Americans, is a form of automotive aesthetics which carries associations with working-class, Latino/a barrio communities. Drawing on critical theories of the production and governance of space, I trace the politics inherent in lowrider cruising and the confrontations with police it occasions. From the perspective of lowriders, I present a critique of community policing as a practice of government, which has the effects of criminalizing lowriders and subjecting them to heightened levels of surveillance.

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