Displacing Blackness: Planning, Power, and Race in Twentieth-Century Halifax
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, Ted Rutland 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.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 400 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.3in x 9.0in
"An exciting, provocative, and important [book] ... [T]he book offers an original ... and unsettling analysis of urban planning. Unlike previous contributions, many of them drawn from political economy and/or liberal frameworks, 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. This allows the book to explain the paradoxical damage produced in planning’s protection and advancement of ‘life' ... In particular, it pushes beyond earlier accounts of planning’s racist effects, to insist on the consequences of a deeply unsettling syllogism: If planning is concerned with the ‘human’, and blackness constitutes the outside of the ‘human’, than planning can be nothing other than ‘anti-black’."
Nicholas Blomley, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University
"a considerable contribution to research on planning history and the stories that inform the planning and development of Canadian cities. The book is unique in its unabashed analysis of the planning as a tool of racial discrimination and Black oppression in the name of progress as offered through a descriptive and at times, explanatory, case study of Halifax. The book goes beyond analysing the stories of Africville that are often the basis for analysing racial histories of Halifax; the author does this by locating the history of Halifax in a larger analysis of ideas informing both institutional and community-driven practices of planning, which overtly discriminate against Black communities ."
Leela Viswanathan, Department of Geography and Planning, Queen’s University
"a well-needed exploration of Black Halifax and its relationship to the State ... It provides, through the lens of urban planning, a deeper understanding of the long history of the City of Halifax and the ways in which particular understandings of racialized bodies helped shape the spaces we see today."
Claudine Bonner, Department of Sociology, Acadia University
"Displacing Blackness: Power, Planning, and Race in Twentieth-Century Halifax sheds light on the racist conceptions behind urban planning projects in Canada, and how they’ve defined what constitutes a viable life, and what does not. This book analyzes the connections between urban planning and blackness, particularly in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the twentieth century. In his critique, Rutland shows that throughout history, projects have consistently benefitted white people, while having serious consequences to the city’s Black residents, despite urban planning promising to improve citizens’ lives."
Cristina Sanza, Faculty of Arts and Science, Concordia University
Author InformationTed Rutland is an associate professor in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment at Concordia University.
Table of contents
List of Figures
- "Higher Living through Environment": The Reformers, the Slums, and the Emergence of Modern Urban Planning
- Planning the Town White: Comprehensive Planning, Scientific Racism, and the Destruction of Africville
- A Calibrated Rush for Progress: Urban Renewal, Anti-Blackness, and the Diverse Effects of a Totalizing Planning Project
- "A Place to Enjoy Oneself": Anti-Renewal Activism, Citizen Involvement, and the Limits of Urban Amenity
- Planning by Other Means: The Black United Front and the Struggle for Self-Determination
- Making Space for Homo economicus: Neoliberalism, Regional Planning, and the Boundaries of Economic Life
Subjects and Courses