A City on a Hill: An Empirical Study and Moral Analysis of Neoliberal Urban Redevelopment in the U.S. with Implications for the Study of Religion, Space, and Place
Fisher, Jr. , Michael Ray
This dissertation is an empirical study of neoliberal urban redevelopment in the U.S. It considers how race, class, and gender shape twenty-first century cities. While neoliberal urban redevelopment has pronouncedly negative consequences for the urban poor writ large, among this group, poor black urban residents are especially disadvantaged as neoliberal urban redevelopment schemes target inner city neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty for urban revitalization. While scholars have studied neoliberalism and the intersection of cities and society, this dissertation provides a moral analysis of the effects of neoliberal urban redevelopment on the black urban poor. Its primary thesis is that the end game of urban revitalization in poor black neighborhoods is real estate and profit rather than the general welfare of the “least of these” in a rapidly changing urban environment. The dissertation draws from multiple academic disciplines including economics, urban studies, sociology, history, cultural studies, and religion to inform a moral analysis of neoliberal urban redevelopment in the U.S. centered on four themes that emerge from the study. They include 1) the role of racial stereotyping in revitalization initiatives, 2) the exacerbation of racial and socio-economic inequality, 3) the cultural logical of creative destruction, and 4) the betrayal of trust of residents in elected officials as a consequence of promises broken.