Zones of Dispossession: Explaining Black Politics During Oakland’s Gentrification

19 January 2024, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


The theories of spatiotemporal dispossession have proposed a mechanism for how capital can flow out of areas that become ‘dispossessed’ and concentrate capital in areas of accumulation that are defined as gentrified or beautified (Harvey 2005, 2010, 2018). Yet, in this explanation of gentrification, studies have not bridged the gap between gentrification and implications for racialized politics in the United States. In this paper, I ask: how does a racialized group become embedded in ‘devaluation’? I conduct a political development analysis of Black politics situated in Oakland’s gentrification and historically trace a process of gentrification. Lastly, I find that the process of gentrification in Oakland has not only displaced communities that have historically been Black, but has devalued Black life itself for decades. I find that the main processes that factored into Oakland’s dispossession are white anxieties over Black politics and reactionary attitudes to perceived racialized urban blight.


urban politics
American political development


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