Deindustrialization and Urban Regeneration: Nietzsche, Activism, and Organically Emergent Forms of Civic Engagement in Windsor/ Detroit
Yocom, Grant Kenneth
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The deindustrialization of cities represents a moment of cultural and political weakness and insecurity about what it means to be urban. Specifically, within Windsor and Detroit the traditionally rooted modes of production and habitation that have framed the cultural and political landscape as well as the identities of these urban centers are in a state of massive transition. Within these urban centers we find engaged residents mobilizing critical, self-critical and projective dispositions capable of meeting the challenges of their context, as well as issuing inquiries that put the inquirer on the spot, produce discomfort, and have potency: the capacity to change the way the inquirer thinks, acts and inhabits urban landscapes. These practices are vital responses to the questions that drive our lived-experience of city life and are in the end matters of survival. This work deploys an interpretation of the new category of philosopher forecasted by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil in order to explore this moment when culture and politics meet at street level in the transitional deindustrializing cities of Windsor and Detroit. This is a difficult moment to make articulate. Many of the criticisms and prescriptions at work in the particular projects that we will examine are expressed as action: performed critique. These urban centers themselves have the capacity to become foxholes of sorts. Cities have a degree of receptivity to urban activism, and thus can become discrete political entities that mediate between culturally rooted criticisms and the larger political landscape. These cities in turn have the capacity to generate larger political effects. Urban activist initiatives, addressed in this project both theoretically and in their particularity, are rooted in the local and the biological in a manner that intimately ties experiences of suffering at the hands of economic and political systems responding to their acts of resistance. Activist collectives aim to inflict a wound to the overall culture, thus inoculating not only the immediate urban culture, but culture more generally with something new and empowering. This work explores the tension between embedded criticisms and proposals performed by urban activists and the trenchant forces that frustrate these actions.