Report from the Field: Redoing Chicago: Gentrification, Race, and Intimate Segregation

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Abstract:

“Do you know what gentrification is?” one new Chicago resident poses. “To some people it means just plain white.” Latino neighborhoods in Chicago have become well documented terrains of contestation over community space, as upscale redevelopment threatens to displace established residents. As people promote or challenge gentrification on the Near Northwest Side, they make reference to Latino and white spaces, practices, representations, market engagements, and political control—and race erupts in overt and covert ways. Recent anthropological work illuminates and unpacks ground level social dynamics with profound consequences amid this latest historical political economic shift. Both interracial contact and avoidance increasingly operate through mixed discourses and practices of diversity and inclusion on the one hand, and heightened and overt racial signification on the other. Intimate segregation is a lived contradiction, embodied in a new repertoire of practices that internalize the ways we interrelate even as we separate.

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