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Technologies of racial capitalism: Debt, scale and 21st century housing futures

Event Type
Department of Geography & GIS
Jan 20, 2023   3:00 pm  
Dr. Desiree Fields, UC Berkeley
This event is free and open to public
Originating Calendar
Geography and Geographic Information Science

In this talk I focus on historical and geographic specificities of the social relations of property and the internal workings of property markets. Across a range of advanced and emerging economies, 21st century digital innovations are catalyzing changes in the politics of property and the operation of land and housing markets. In the U.S. housing market, the relations of ownership are an active site for experimentation by a combination of private equity, venture capital, algorithms, and platform business models. While public debate about developments like iBuying often interprets their technological novelty as a break with longstanding property relations, the US has a long history of property innovation in which technologies like appraisal science have overtly reinforced white dominance. In keeping with the malleable dynamics of racial capitalism (Jenkins and Leroy), I conceptualize debt and scale as crucial instruments of contemporary housing ‘innovation in the US. The expansive scale of the financial and digital spheres makes possible finer-grained modes of accumulation that include marginalized places and populations on extractive terms. Operations of debt and scale are key to how inequality is produced and leveraged in the 21st century housing market, and thus to housing futures.

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