Creative Inequality: Development, Gentrification and Contestation in the New Ward 8
Failing public institutions, youth violence, meager retail and service options, and deteriorating housing and infrastructure are qualities of place familiar to long-time residents of greater Anacostia. However, the practices and beliefs of residents are being confronted by the transformation and inscription of new meanings on their physical and social spaces. This development is heightened by government and private efforts to attract members of the fallacious creative class. Accordingly my research explores “What is the impact of the application of creative class theory and creative economic development on the residents of the Anacostia Historic District and the neighboring community of Barry Farm?” Specifically, I examine the communal cooperation and conflict related to public housing, affordable housing, creative economic development, and their connections to gentrification and displacement.Policymakers, elites, and entrepreneurs support and operationalize the terms creative class and creative economy through creative economic development strategies and practices like creative placemaking. These policies and practices benefit from the tacit and explicit support of various segments of local communities. This support appears as traditional class conflict and furthers misrecognition. Consequently, I argue that the creative class is a neoliberal intellectual technology.This dissertation situates the activities and organizing efforts of residents in a sociohistorical ethnographic narrative of the redevelopment of the Anacostia Historic District, the Barry Farm public housing project and St. Elizabeths Hospital. It explores the local gentrification experience, arts-based development and broader creative economic development, and examines deconstructs creative class theory. Further it analyzes local responses to creative economic development. It also discusses the responses of individuals categorized as creative class to the existing socioeconomic conditions of their community and the consequences of their efforts in human and economic terms. Solidarity among artists and other residents as well as power relations, implicit and explicit biases, and disparities among the occupations grouped into the creative class and between these people and other residents is examined. The outcomes of these negotiations make clear that collective misrecognition is inherent to creative economic development.