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    Unreal Estate: An Introduction

    unreal (ŭn-rē'əl, -rēl')


    1. not corresponding to acknowledged facts or criteria;
    2. being or seeming fanciful or imaginary;
    3. lacking material form or substance;
    4. contrived by art rather than nature;
    5. Slang: so remarkable as to elicit disbelief.


    Detroit: a city seemingly so deep in decline that, to some, it is scarcely recognizable as a city at all.

    And so, to most observers, and more than a few residents, what’s there in Detroit is what’s no longer there. Theirs is a city characterized by loss: of population, property values, jobs, infrastructure, investment, security, urbanity itself. What results is vacancy, absence, emptiness, catastrophe and ruin. These are conditions of the “shrinking city,” a city that by now seem so apparent in Detroit as to prompt not verification but measurement, not questions but responses, not doubts but solutions.[1]

    Built into the framing of Detroit as a shrinking city, though, are a host of problematic assumptions about what a city is and should be. On the basis of these assumptions, change is understood as loss, difference is understood as decline, and the unprecedented is understood as the undesirable. These understandings presume the city as a site of development and progress, a site defined by the capitalist economy that drives and profits from urban growth. The contraction of such a site, therefore, provokes corrective urbanisms that are designed to fix, solve or improve a city in decline.

    What corrective responses to shrinkage reciprocally pre-empt, however, are the possibilities and potentials that decline brings—the ways in which the shrinking city is also an incredible city, saturated with urban opportunities that are precluded or even unthinkable in cities that function according to plan. Taking advantage of these opportunities requires an approach to the shrinking city not so much as a problem to solve than as a prompt to new understandings of the city’s spatial and cultural possibilities.

    Especially in the United States, architecture and urbanism almost always have learned their lessons from cities where the capitalist economy is flourishing, from interwar New York (Delirious New York), through postwar Las Vegas (Learning from Las Vegas), to late 20th century Houston (After the City) and beyond.[2] Cities where the economy is faltering, by contrast, are places where architecture and urban planning deploy what they already have learned. These apparent opportunities for assistance and amelioration thereby provide architecture and planning with precious chances to prove themselves as in-the-know, both to themselves and to larger publics, as well. Relinquishing the desire to repair the shrinking city may thus present excruciating challenges to architecture and planning. It might compel the humbling realization that these disciplines might have more to learn from the shrinking city than the shrinking city has to learn from them. It might also compel the even more humbling realization that any specialized kind of knowledge production, whether disciplinary or interdisciplinary, is inadequate to grasp the contemporary city, and that this grasp would have to lead towards a new transdisciplinary knowledge production with a necessarily hybrid, experimental and indeterminate form.[3]

    But the shrinking city can teach not only professionals; it also can and does teach its own inhabitants—with “inhabitation” here posed as a political act rather than a geographically based condition.[4] The shrinking city is neither empty nor populated only by the impoverished and disempowered; rather, the challenges of this city have inspired many of its inhabitants to re-think their relationship to the city and to each other. This re-thinking throws into question the urban ambitions and capacities that the “creative class” has been endowed with, if not arrogated to itself.[5] Most postulations of a “creative class” imagine that group as wholly different—by socio-economic level, by education, and by other parameters of entitlement—from the socio-economically marginal communities that inhabit cities like Detroit. This imagination has allowed the “creative class” to pose itself as the heroic savior, engaged educator, or sympathetic interlocutor of what some have called the urban “underclass.”[6] It has also yielded the race- and class-inflected portrayal of members of the “creative class” as the fundamental harbinger of change in Detroit, a portrayal that has played out in media exposure, access to grants, and a host of other forms, as well.

    Socio-economic marginality, however, should be understood not as a call for creative others but as a condition of possibility for the emergence of creativity itself. In this sense, marginality allows for the formulation of new and innovative ways to imagine and inhabit the city. This is not to suggest that the mantle of heroism be transferred from a “creative class” to an “underclass”; it is, rather, to recognize the unique capacity of Detroit’s inhabitants and communities to understand and transform their city. Indeed, for many in Detroit, hope for the city’s problems to be solved by others has not been relinquished so much as ignored as in utter contradiction to the city as both history and lived experience. In Detroit, that is, urban crisis not only solicits skills of endurance, but also yields conditions favorable for invention and experiment—for the imagination of an urban realm that parallels the realm of concern to urban professionals and experts.

    What if Detroit has lost population, jobs, infrastructure, investment, and all else that the conventional narratives point to—but, precisely as a result of those losses, has gained opportunities to understand and engage novel urban conditions? What if one sort of property value has decreased in Detroit—the exchange value brokered by the failing market economy—but other sorts of values have reciprocally increased, use values that lack salience or even existence in that economy? What if Detroit has not only fallen apart, emptied out, disappeared and/or shrunk, but has also transformed, becoming a new sort of urban formation that only appears depleted, voided or abjected through the lenses of conventional architecture and urbanism? The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit is dedicated to exploring these and related propositions and, in so doing, the cultural, social and political possibilities that ensue from urban crisis.

    Properties of Crisis

    The guide’s focus is a property of crisis termed “unreal estate”: urban territory that has fallen out of the literal economy, the economy of the market, and thereby become available to different systems of value, whether cultural, social, political or otherwise. The values of unreal estate are unreal from the perspective of the market economy—they are liabilities, or unvalues that hinder property’s circulation through that market. But it is precisely as property is rendered valueless according to the dominant regime of value that it becomes available for other forms of thought, activity and occupation—in short, for other value systems.

    Unreal estate emerges when the exchange value of property falls to a point when that property can assume use values unrecognized by the market economy. The extraction of capital from Detroit, then, has not only yielded the massive devaluation of real estate that has been amply documented but also, and concurrently, an explosive production of unreal estate, of valueless, abandoned or vacant urban property serving as site of and instrument for the imagination and practice of an informal and sometimes alternative urbanism.

    Unreal estate is less a negation of real estate than a supplement of it, located both inside and outside of real estate’s political economy. Unreal estate, that is, is neither merely nor altogether oppositional—it opens onto the imagination of positions beyond acceptance or rejection of the market economy. Unreal estate may thus be understood as a term that fits within what J. K. Gibson-Graham calls “a landscape of economic difference, populated by various capitalist and non-capitalist institutions and practices,” the latter not simply absences of the former but singularities with their own particular forms and possibilities.[7]

    “Private property has made us so stupid and narrow-minded that an object is only ours when we have it, when it exists as capital for us, or when we can directly possess, eat, drink, wear, inhabit it, etc.”[8] Karl Marx’s critical framing of real estate still points to the seeming unreality of property regarded as valueless or useless. The notion of private property, that is, stupefies us to the counter-values of property devoid of exchange-value or conventional use-values. Devoid of these values, space usually passes out of our cognitive grasp and we become unable to posit a relationship to it.

    And yet, the spatial residue of capital’s withdrawal—valueless property, abandoned buildings, vacant lots, unserviced neighborhoods—form a system of disaggregated places that can be claimed by and for an informal urbanism that defies the enclosures of private property. The enclosure of commons was a constituent component of the development of capitalism, a means to incorporate collective space into property regimes and profit-making processes.[9] Unreal estate provides a lens through which to see how a decline in the exchange value of property can yield the undoing of enclosures and the creation of possibilities for new sorts of commons—a commons that is neither designed nor intended, but one that is a collateral result of the extraction of capital.

    This proto-commons exist in spatial intervals, in the fissures and voids that open up between contracting spaces of investment and ownership. It also exists in a temporal interval, in a moment between the historical failure of modernist industrial production and the possible advent of postmodern urban gentrification. Situated in these spatial and temporal intervals, a commons-in-the-making is at once potential and precarious. It is constantly susceptible not only to further deterioration, but also to further “betterment” as defined by a value regime that equates improvement with profitability. The unvalues of unreal estate, that is, are constantly at risk or even in the process of being recuperated as values—a recuperation that could become part of a process of gentrification, redevelopment or urban renewal.

    The proto-commons of unreal estate is also constantly threatened by the least-developed form of capitalism: the primitive accumulation of dispossession, or what is usually identified and experienced as crime. The breakdown of capitalism, that is, invites not only the production of new sorts of values but also the extraction of existent values by force. Violence, of both legal and extra-legal varieties, thus shadows the city of unreal estate; this city accommodates both an alternative urbanism, untethered to the imperative of capitalist accumulation, and the anachronistic urbanism of accumulation by force. In Detroit, this anachronistic urbanism has been emphasized to the point of exaggeration; this guide foregrounds an alternative urbanism in order to allow for more nuanced readings of the city.

    Urban Informality: From Everyday Urbanism to Unreal Estate

    Speculations on Detroit’s unreal estate have been authored not only by artists and architects but also by activists, anarchists, collectors, community associations, curators, explorers, gardeners, neighborhood groups, scavengers and many others—a heterogeneous array of individual and collective urban inhabitants. The political, social and cultural agencies of these inhabitants are diverse, but their skills, techniques and knowledge are specific, directed and often profound. A concern for unreal estate, then, involves a commitment to the informal production of urban space and urban culture by a wide and diverse range of the urban public. In urban studies, this commitment has been claimed by a discourse that revolves around “everyday urbanism.”[10] Translating the concerns of urban informality to the North American city, everyday urbanism has placed a salutary attention on the way that the public co-authors the city through its manifold uses of urban space.[11] Unreal estate situates practices that overlap with those categorized as “everyday urbanism,” but these practices invite a rather different framing.

    The theorists of everyday urbanism have posed it as an urbanism of the “mundane” and “generic” spaces that “ordinary” city dwellers produce in the course of their daily lives. These spaces “constitute an everyday reality of infinitely recurring commuting routes and trips to the supermarket, dry cleaner, or video store”—a de Certeau-style catalogue of “tactics” apprehended by the public.[12] At the same time, everyday urbanism is also supposed to be a bottom-up urbanism that “should inevitably lead to social change.”[13] But this layering of political agency onto the quotidian practices of everyday life produces tensions: everyday urbanism is posed as at once mundane and tendentious, at once descriptive and normative, at once inherent to a system and an alternative to a system. How does driving to the video store inevitably lead to social change? What sort of weakness and powerlessness mark those who rent videos? How do the tactics of the customer at the video store differ from those of the store’s employee? In some of its received versions, everyday urbanism might prompt such questions.

    The fundamental forms of everyday urbanism are public responses to professionally designed urban environments; everyday urbanism is thus an urbanism of reaction, whether conciliatory or contentious, to the professionalized urbanism that shapes urban space and life. As such, it does not sustain the progressive political project that some contributors to the discourse want to endow it with—a project that de Certeau was very careful not to attribute to the everyday tactics he theorized.[14] Indeed, the insistent elision in everyday urbanist discourse between “everyday life,” on the one hand, and “experience,” on the other, points to the commitment of the discourse not so much to alternatives to hegemonic modes of urbanism, but rather to the ways in which these modes are received by their audiences or users. Everyday urbanism certainly offers an “alternative,” but this alternative is not so much critical, a question of difference from a hegemonic political structure, but rather authorial, a question of difference from professional authorship.

    Unreal estate is a waste product of capitalism—it is not mundane or generic so much as abject. The urbanism that unreal estate sponsors is less a tactic of consumption, like everyday urbanism, than an alternative form of production. This production can be insurgent, survivalist, ecstatic, escapist or parodic; it can also be recuperative, returning unreal estate to the real estate market. The urbanism of unreal estate, then, can exist in tension with both the professional urbanism of architects and planners and everyday responses to that urbanism; it is its perceived character as subordinate, redundant or trivial that endows it with its particular differences.

    In Detroit, the urbanism of unreal estate has yielded an array of practices, techniques, collectives and constructions. Sometimes—but not always—committed to the extraction of unvalues from capitalism’s spatial waste products, this urbanism is also often defined by a number of other common dimensions. This urbanism tends to be improvised, taking shape as unrehearsed and sometimes makeshift moves and actions, as opposed to being planned in advance as a means to a specified end. It tends to dissolve differences between work and play, as well as between art and other forms of cultural or symbolic production, from activism and political organization, through cooking, gardening, caretaking and teaching, to craftwork and social work. It tends to appropriate spaces that appear available to occupation or sub-occupation, or else to furtively occupy spaces that appear to be claimed or otherwise used. The products of this urbanism are often temporary or dispensable and its users and audiences are often limited to its authors or those in their direct company. And these authors tend to be self-organized, taking on responsibilities and functions typically displaced to institutions in functional cities.

    The study of everyday and informal practices is often suffused with a desire to endow those practices with resistant or critical force. The urbanism of unreal estate, however, does not mount a critique as much as it claims a right: the right not to be excluded from the city by an inequitable and unjust system of ownership and wealth distribution.[15] Claims to this right run the gamut from recuperative, through reformist, to radical, so that the politics of unreal estate are various.[16] Occupations of unreal estate emerge from both long-term community activism, short-term artistic interventionism and a whole range of practices that are situated between the preceding in terms of their political, social and cultural stakes. Indeed, as this guide documents, unreal estate development includes escapist fantasies as well as transformative actions; it includes creative survival as well as cultural critique; and it includes the ephemeral aesthetic servicing of those supposedly in need as well as material responses to objective needs through long-term self-organization.

    One of the dangers in assembling this unruly set of examples is that it may smooth over the actual and important differences that distinguish these examples from one another. Perhaps the most significant of these differences is that between unreal estate development undertaken by choice, by those with negotiable or flexible relationships to a place and a community, and unreal estate development undertaken by necessity, by those with non-negotiable or given relationships to where they live and who they live with.[17] This guide does not intend to blur this or any other distinction between the projects it includes; rather, the guide seeks to suggest the manifold variety of forms of occupation that unreal estate can sustain by including projects that possess wholly different political, social and cultural valences.

    While the urbanism of unreal estate takes place in dead zones for both free-market capitalism and formal politics, this is not to say that this urbanism is apolitical. Rather, it is to assert a distinction between governmental politics and non-governmental politics and to locate the potential politics of unreal estate in the latter—a politics devoid of aspirations to govern.[18] Just like exits or expulsions from the market economy, rejections of formal politics also comprise invitations: to neglect or parody rather than resist, to mimic rather than replace, to supplant rather than reverse. These are invitations to consider political change and political difference not even from the ground up, for “ground,” too, is the province of government, but on other grounds entirely, grounds “not corresponding to acknowledged facts or criteria,” grounds that can instructively go by the name of “unreal.”

    Unreal Estate Development: Crisis as Opportunity

    I do not document unreal estate in this guide in order to facilitate its growth, consolidation or protection. Instead, my aim is to investigate the forms and possibilities of self-organized urbanism in the context of the shrinking city. Indeed, if there is such a thing as “unreal estate development,” it would not be based on investments that pay off in a better world-to-come, whether within or beyond the market economy; it would rest, rather, on expenditures in the present moment, critically refusing to mortgage that moment for another, different future. If the development of unreal estate involves an exchange, then it is the exchange of a teleological system of progress, in which the present is, by definition, inferior, incomplete or inadequate, for an ongoing commitment to that present as a site of exploration and investigation. In the frame of unreal estate, therefore, Detroit is not a problem to solve by means of already understood metrics of evaluation, but a situation to come to terms with, in terms of both its challenges and possibilities. In this sense, this guide does not presume to show a “solution” to Detroit’s problems; if anything, it indicates ways in which the city is failing better—more equitably, justly and beautifully.

    This is not a mere surrender to an environment suffused with social suffering, a bad present that calls out for improvement, whether that improvement be offered by the grassroots labor of artists and activists or by the top-down programs and policies of governments. On the contrary: it is the postulation of the present as a temporary phase within a moralized continuum of progress that allows that present to be tolerated and accepted. The conditions of this temporary present are redeemable “problems” and “failures,” subject to improvement in and by a future yet to come, rather than inexorable situations whose values and potentials must be analyzed rather than assumed.

    To explore unreal estate, rather than undeveloped real estate, is to confront the complex (un)reality of property that has been extruded from the free-market economy. It is to see the margins of that economy as a site of invention and creativity as well as of suffering and oppression, a perspective that may very well be “so remarkable as to elicit disbelief.” The world of unreal estate thus offers a parallax position from which to assess value, an alternative to the single fixed vantage point established by the market economy.[19] In the world of unreal estate, precisely those urban features that are conventionally understood to diminish or eradicate value (inefficiency, inexplicability, waste, redundancy, uselessness, excess) are what create possibilities to construct new values. What usually appears to be the “ruin” of the city thus becomes projective or potential. Reciprocally, the processes that are conventionally understood to support the “renewal” of the city (investment, community-building, securitization, large-scale construction) become, by contrast, banal at best and destructive of unprecedented futures at worst.

    Detroit is frequently framed as a city in need: of investment, infrastructural improvement, good governance and many other things besides. And yet, a city in need is also something else besides. Needs create spaces and opportunities for alternative means of achieving viable urban lives. Unreal estate is one heuristic for detecting and exploring these alternative means. Freed from the constraints of free market valuation and development, unreal estate is a site of manifold possibilities of alternative uses, actions and practices. Unreal estate thus opens onto other forms of urban life, culture, sociality and politics—sites at which the city is not only endured, survived or tolerated, but also re-imagined and re-configured.

    Such perspectives on urban crisis have begun to emerge in contexts where the urban status quo is taken to be unsustainable, labile or both. For example, AbdouMaliq Simone describes “the double-edged experience of emergency” in the African city—an experience of both crisis and openness, of both challenge and opportunity. With the disruptions that emergency brings, Simone writes, simultaneously come possibilities for new ways of thinking, acting and being:

    Emergency describes a process of things in the making, of the emergence of new thinking and practice still unstable, still tentative, in terms of the use of which such thinking and practice will be put ... a present, then, able to seemingly absorb any innovation or experiment; a temporality characterized by a lack of gravity that would hold meanings to specific expressions and actions ... This state of emergency enables, however fleetingly, a community to experience its life, its experiences and realities, in their own terms: this is our life, nothing more, nothing less.[20]

    Overwhelmingly interpreted as a mere urban failure, Detroit partakes of the possibilities brought about by emergency, and, as such, is one among a global ensemble of similar urban sites. In this context, the urbanism of unreal estate is more than just a compensation for “normal” urbanism and more than a response to the lack of formal urban planning. Rather, the self-organization and informality of unreal estate development open onto alternative ways of imagining, building and inhabiting the city. Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs has thus often remarked upon the city’s challenges as conditions of possibility for conceptualizing and producing new ways of living in the city: “the thousands of vacant lots and abandoned houses not only provide the space to begin anew but also the incentive to create innovative ways of making our living—ways that nurture our productive, cooperative and caring selves.”[21]

    Unreal Estate Agency

    In a market economy, a real estate agent assists with the buying and selling of property; real estate agents act as representatives of buyers and sellers both, helping each fulfill their intention to invest or disinvest in property. Unreal estate requires no such agent: it is not for sale; its values are often obscure, limited or perverse; and it usually does not circulate in a public monetary economy as much as in intimate networks of desire, imagination or shared concern. In compiling this guide, then, I was an unreal estate agent who represented individuals and communities that did not ask for and may not have even wanted such representation in the first place. This ambivalent representation maps onto my ambivalent accountability to those whose work is documented in this guide. I could not presume to share the accountability of the authors of the projects in this guide to their particular neighborhoods and communities. My accountability to these authors is premised not on the ratification of their projects on their own terms, but on opening these projects to new interpretive communities, discursive contexts and disciplinary and transdisciplinary affiliations. This may actually be a form of accountability that hollows itself out—the projects I seek to open up may be destabilized and dislocated by such openings, at least from the perspective of their authors. If so, then “accountability” may become yet another unreal value, impossible to consolidate as simply positive or negative.

    My unreal estate agency also extended from the actual to the possible, from the authentic to the imaginary, from the here-and-now to the where-and-when. The unreality of what is contained in this guide, therefore, is various; it encompasses invention of many sorts. My hope is that this unreal estate agency might provoke questions about the “real” existence of what this guide documents, as well as, more significantly, about what the parameters of the “real” are or could be. These parameters ought to invite scrutiny. When parameters of “reality” are passively accepted rather than actively made, all of the ideologies and contradictions that pass as objective conditions of the world are accepted along with them. Marx long ago pointed out that the commodity is a mystification on par with those of the “mist-enveloped regions of the religious world”: through the commodity, he wrote, “there is a definite social relation between men that assumes ... the fantastic form of a relation between things.”[22] Real estate is the spatial form of this mystification. This guide thus solicits a skepticism toward given models of urban “reality” in order to provoke imagination of the unreal’s possible potentials.

    The representation of unreal estate in this guide, then, is both partial and eccentric. The guide includes no addresses of the sites it lists and no itineraries to aid the visitor interested in seeing unreal estate for herself. The visualization of sites in the guide favors intensity and evocation over clarity and comprehensiveness. The guide organizes the sites it lists not according to their location or their type, but according to the categories of unprofessional practice, unwarranted technique, unsanctioned collectivity and unsolicited construction. Like the term unreal estate, these categories may be supplemental more than oppositional, located both within and beyond their proper counterparts. These categories may offer little in the way of obvious, apparent or useful knowledge; they also may prevent too-easy apprehensions of unreal estate according to received understandings of the city, as well as offer preliminary suggestions for new ways of thinking about the distinctive urban culture that unreal estate facilitates.

    At the same time, however, I hope that this guide might partially fill in what is often regarded as empty and abandoned space, space whose only sanctioned future is to be transformed into something else. Such a documentation may act as a friction against many of the schemes that have been and continue to be proposed to save or rescue Detroit. These schemes tend to be predicated on the “acknowledgment” of Detroit’s abandonment or emptiness—“acknowledgments” that, at least to some degree, conjure the vacancy they seemingly only point to. What the focus on unreal estate reveals is that these seemingly objective “acknowledgments” are founded on imprecise readings of the city. What appears as empty space from a distance becomes, in closer view, space that is occupied, albeit in subtle, provisional and at times hidden ways.

    This guide also offers a picture of Detroit that is in contrast to the picture offered by projects that seek to visually document Detroit’s decline.[23] These projects can be characterized by a shared fascination with ruins. Yet some of these projects do not document decline as much as they polemically invent images of decline by proffering the ruin as the definitive urban figure of contemporary Detroit. According to photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, for example, Detroit is “a contemporary Pompeii, with all the archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification.”[24] If the spectacle can be understood as “capital accumulated to the point when it becomes images,” then photographs of a contemporary Pompeii can be understood to represent a counter-spectacle, images that emerge from an extreme extraction of capital.[25] Against the counter-spectacle of a city of ruins, then, this guide offers a view of a different city, suffused with potential instead of oblivion.

    While this guide is dedicated to a close view of Detroit, it is also a view that is far from comprehensive or complete. If, on some level, this guide maps unreal estate in Detroit, then the map it yields contains many blank spaces, many gaps, many openings to further work and play. The projects that are included here do not form a closed set but rather an open-ended field of investigation and proposition. Much important work that belongs in this field has undoubtedly been left out of this guide. Unreal estate is, by definition, difficult to detect amidst the visually and semantically overloaded landscape of real estate, even in Detroit. If the guide has any effects (which it cannot and should not seek to predict), one might be to focus attention not on what it contains but on what it overlooks: its own failures, whether of theory, history, representation or anything else.

    From a wider perspective, this guide is not only an investigation of Detroit’s particular condition, but also of urban informality in the wake of capitalist development and, more generally still, the urban culture of crisis. In this sense, it may offer clues for detecting a spatial economy joined to many economies of real estate as a faint but fantastic aura. This is also a guide, then, to many cities that exist on or beyond the boundaries of formal economies, state regulations and public visibilities—cities that are not invisible as much as they are places that professionals and experts are often blind to. These cities exist in a middle landscape between the sanctioned and the rejected; they are cities whose time is both interim and now. Some of the places and practices in this guide, then, may be found not only in Detroit but also in other cities, perhaps including the city where you now find yourself.


    1. See Shrinking Cities: International Research, ed. Philipp Oswalt (Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005); Shrinking Cities: Interventions, ed. Philipp Oswalt (Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2006); Atlas of Shrinking Cities, ed. Philipp Oswalt (Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2006).return to text

    2. Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (New York: Monacelli, 1997); Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour and Denise Scott-Brown, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977); Lars Lerup, After the City (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).return to text

    3. See, for example, Urban Asymmetries: Studies and Projects on Neoliberal Urbanization, ed. Tahl Kaminer and Miguel Robles-Duran (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2011) and Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production in Architecture and Urbanism: Towards Hybrid Modes of Inquiry, ed. Isabelle Doucet and Nel Janssens (New York: Springer, 2011).return to text

    4. On the politics of community, see Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991).return to text

    5. See, for example, Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class (New York: Basic Books, 2003).return to text

    6. On the urban “underclass,” see, for example, William Julius Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass and Public Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987) and Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making the Underclass (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993). The concept of the “underclass” has been widely critiqued; see, for example, Loïc Wacquant, Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality (Malden: Polity Press, 2008).return to text

    7. J. K. Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 54. return to text

    8. Karl Marx, “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” in Selected Writings, ed. David McClellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 91.return to text

    9. See Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View (London: Verso, 2002).return to text

    10. See Everyday Urbanism, ed. John Leighton Chase, Margaret Crawford and John Kaliski (New York: Monacelli Press, 2008).return to text

    11. This translation also reflects the propensity in urban studies to produce theory in the Global North for the Global North, rather than to theorize the city in terms of global models. On this propensity, see Jennifer Robinson, Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development (London: Routledge, 2006).return to text

    12. Margaret Crawford, “Blurring the Boundaries: Public Space and Private Life,” in Everyday Urbanism, 24.return to text

    13. Margaret Crawford, “Introduction,” in Everyday Urbanism, 11. On “tactics of consumption,” see Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).return to text

    14. “The actual order of things is precisely what ‘popular’ tactics turn to their own ends, without any illusion that (the order) will change any time soon”: see de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 26.return to text

    15. On urban informality and the right to the city, see Anaya Roy, “Urban Informality: Toward an Epistemology of Planning,” Journal of the American Planning Association 71:2 (2005).return to text

    16. On the various formulations of the right to the city, see Peter Marcuse, “From Critical Urban Theory to the Right to the City,” City 13:2-3 (2009).return to text

    17. On this difference, see Martha Rosler, “Culture Class: Art, Creativity, Urbanism,” part 3, e-flux journal 25 (May 2011), http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/231.return to text

    18. See Nongovernmental Politics, ed. Michel Fehrer (New York: Zone Books, 2008).return to text

    19. In this sense, this guide might provide evidence for a critique of what Gibson-Graham call “capitalocentrism”: the economic discourse that “distributes positive value to those activities associated with capitalist economic activity however defined, and assigns lesser value to all other processes of producing goods and services by identifying them in relation to capitalism as the same as, the opposite of, a complement to, or contained within.” See Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 56.return to text

    20. AbdouMaliq Simone, For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), 4-5.return to text

    21. Grace Lee Boggs, “Detroit: City of Hope,” In These Times 33:2 (February 2009).return to text

    22. Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1, A Critique of Political Economy (London: Penguin, 1992), 98.return to text

    23. See, most recently, Andrew Morton, Detroit Disassembled (Akron: Akron Art Museum, 2010), Dan Morton, Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruin (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010) and Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit (Göttingen: Steidl, 2011).return to text

    24. Marchand and Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit, n. p.return to text

    25. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone, 1995), 14.return to text