Slumburbs

When the foreclosure crisis hit in 2007/8, I was just beginning my field work in eastern Contra Costa county. Over the next year, I began to see all manner of articles in supposedly respectable newspapers and magazines by relatively well-known writers all doing the same thing: describing suburbs with the negative terminology previous generations of writers had used for cities. Some even used the terrible term slumburb, or slumburbia.

I can’t begin to explain how harmful this behavior is, and how sad. It’s not accurate, doesn’t help anyone, and doesn’t get us closer to meeting the real challenges of cities or suburbs. And let’s be honest – it’s also often very thinly veiled racism.

+ 2013 Alex Schafran. Discourse and Dystopia, American Style: The Rise of “Slumburbia” in a Time of Crisis, City, 17(2), pp. 130-148

+ 2009 Alex Schafran. Outside Endopolis: Notes from Contra Costa County,Critical Planning, 16. SOJA PRIZE FOR CRITICAL THINKING IN URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH.

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