In cities around the world, especially in the United States, processes of socio-spatial restructuring continue to unfold. Often understood as neoliberal urbanism and identified through concepts such as gentrification, these processes entail the displacement of subaltern classes to the far edges of urban life. In this talk, Roy argues that it is necessary to analyse such transformations through a theorisation of racial capitalism. In particular, she draws on research conducted by scholars and social movements in Los Angeles to delineate processes of racial banishment. In doing so, Roy argues that the standard conceptual repertoire of urban studies is ill-equipped to study such processes. In particular, influential explanations that invoke neoliberalisation often miss the long histories of dispossession and disposability that are being remade in the contemporary city. Put another way, she makes the case for how urban studies must contend with legacies of white liberalism and the elision of the race question. Relying on both postcolonial theory and the black radical tradition, Roy demonstrates that what is at stake is not only a more robust analysis of urbanism but also attention to the various forms of movement and mobilisation that are challenging racial banishment.
Ananya Roy is Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare and Geography and inaugural Director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. She holds The Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy.