UC Santa Cruz
Conjuring Blight in an Urban Landscape: Market Farms and Aerosol Murals in Oakland, CA
- Author(s): Watson, Jessica Weston
- Advisor(s): Errington, Shelly
- et al.
This dissertation, Conjuring Blight in an Urban Landscape: Market Farms and Aerosol Murals in Oakland, CA, examines collaborations between the City of Oakland and several nonprofits to cover key city functions in the face of a fiscal crisis precipitated by the national recession (2008-2011). Based in eighteen months of ethnographic research and years of additional interaction, my research shows the ways that bureaucrats, gardeners and aerosol muralists are all actively inscribing spaces and claiming ownership over them, through their actions and material interactions; this process of co-creation defines the legality, subjectivity, and economics of the people and institutions involved. This dissertation explores the public power of imagination in creating shared worlds and how the material effects of these imaginings co-constitute space. These transformations of space are driven by the need to transform people - the poor, the unhealthy, the disempowered - to encourage behaviors desired by the City and nonprofit organizations in their collaborations. Blight is a central metaphor used to create categories, effect imaginings, and produce certain types of space, with far-reaching effects on the lives lived within it.