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A Detroit Story

Urban Decline and the Rise of Property Informality

Claire W. Herbert


List Price: 29.95*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/16/2021)


Bringing to the fore a wealth of original research, A Detroit Story examines how the informal reclamation of abandoned property has been shaping Detroit for decades. Claire Herbert lived in the city for almost five years to get a ground-view sense of how this process molds urban areas. She participated in community meetings and tax foreclosure protests, interviewed various groups, followed scrappers through abandoned buildings, and visited squatted houses and gardens. Herbert found that new residents with more privilege often have their back-to-the-earth practices formalized by local policies, whereas longtime, more disempowered residents, usually representing communities of color, have their practices labeled as illegal and illegitimate. She teases out how these divergent treatments reproduce long-standing inequalities in race, class, and property ownership.

Praise For A Detroit Story: Urban Decline and the Rise of Property Informality

"An exceptional piece of urban ethnography. . . . While one might be tempted to situate such a countermovement in the gentrification literature, Herbert’s work insists on a more complex interpretation, one that could extend the immense amount she has already taught us about property relations under duress."

— Social Forces

"This is an important book."
— AAG Review of Books

University of California Press, 9780520340084, 316pp.

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

About the Author

Claire Herbert is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oregon.