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Spirits in a material world : representations of gentrification in U.S. urban centers


This dissertation proposes that literary texts can capture and reflect how representational spaces are conjured up by authors to inscribe a hidden past. This hidden past is often subsumed from the official narratives approved by redevelopment agencies and the state. This dissertation also argues that it is imperative to see these inscriptions of the past as haunting reminders demanding that we remember the people and spaces removed from gentrified neighborhoods. These specters of history leave us ill at ease, wondering what can and should be done in the future to address the inequities of dislocation and relocation that result from gentrification. These specters permit a recuperation of "subjugated knowledge" where the violence of the past permits itself to be seen through the inscription of a historical past to neighborhoods facing gentrification. They inscribe a past so as to develop an oppositional narrative that defers resistance into the future so as to change the desire of residents. That is, the texts examined here ask longtime residents to challenge future encroachments of gentrification while asking newer residents to understand the subjugated histories of the neighborhood and to understand that their existence within a neighborhood carries real, and sometimes, unintended consequences into a neighborhood. For these reasons, this dissertation examines texts from New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles in order to excavate these histories. The dissertation thus offers examples of how to face and challenge gentrification in the United States

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