Built to support the city’s peak population of nearly two million residents, tens of thousands of structures in Detroit now sit vacant and actively decaying, awaiting renovation, demolition, or deconstruction. This article draws on data from participant observation, media analysis, and semistructured interviews with residents, small business owners, and consumers in metro Detroit to examine the underlying ideology of blight removal programs in Detroit and the transformation of materials from blighted structures into objects of tangible heritage via the processes of deconstruction and “reclamation.” I argue that the city’s current blight eradication efforts, while represented by city officials (and residents) as a universal good, serve to fragment and erase the social and material legacies of racism and urban decline from the landscape and “obscure the real agents of decline.”1
“Reclaiming” Detroit: Demolition and Deconstruction in the Motor City
Kaeleigh Herstad is a doctoral candidate in the department of anthropology at Indiana University. Her research explores local and community experiences of deindustrialization and blight removal programs in the US Rust Belt.
Kaeleigh Herstad; “Reclaiming” Detroit: Demolition and Deconstruction in the Motor City. The Public Historian 1 November 2017; 39 (4): 85–113. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2017.39.4.85
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