Out of Place

Homeless Mobilizations, Subcities, and Contested Landscapes

By Talmadge Wright

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series, INTERRUPTIONS: Border Testimony(ies) and Critical Discourse/s
Paperback : 9780791433706, 408 pages, May 1997
Hardcover : 9780791433690, 408 pages, May 1997

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


Introduction: Out of Place


Talking Homeless, Walking Poor
Constructing the Homeless, Deconstructing the "Poor"
Academic Segmentation of Homeless Bodies
Boundary Work and "Speaking for Others"


1. Social-Physical Space, Socal Imaginaries, and Homeless Identities


Social Imaginary Significations and Everyday Life
The Production of Space and the Location of Identity in Everyday Life
The "Fixing" of Partial Truths, Difference, Identities, and Bodies in Space
Gendered and Racialized Bodies: the "Other" and Social-Physical Space
Degeneracy, Moral Worth, and the "Scaling of Bodies"
Social-Physical Space, Social Imaginaries, and the City


2. Urban Redevelopment Visions, Social Imaginaries, Polarized Topographies


Economic Restructuring, Downsizing, and Homelessness
City Redevelopment Strategies: Inclusion or Exclusion?
Culture and Images of Redevelopment
Polarized Topographies, Spatial Hierarchies


Producing/Consuming Pleasure Spaces
Producing/Consuming Refuse Spaces
Producing/Consuming Functional Spaces


Zoned and Redeveloped Exclusions and Dispersions


3. Making Pleasure and Refuse: Chicago and San Jose




Changing Chicago Visions
Polarized Topographies I: The Near South Side/South Loop
Polarized Topographies II: The Near West Side


San Jose


Problematic Economics
Polarized Topographies: Housing, Race, Redevelopment
Changing San Jose Visions
New Pleasure Spaces: The Guadalupe River Park Project and the Downtown Plan
Exclusive Redevelopment: Dispersing the Poor


4. Authoritative Strategies, Borders, and Homeless Containment


Institutional, Cultural, and Market Exclusions
Homeless Social and Cultural Assimilations
Street and Store: Exclusions and Repressions
Political and Media Displacements
Shelters and Surveillance: Exclusion, Assimilation, and Containment


5. Homeless Mobilizations and Spatial Resistances


The University and Homeless Mobilization: The Student-Homeless Alliance
Community Groups and Homeless Mobilization: Tranquility City


6. Homeless Placemaking, Collective Identity, and Collective Action


Resistant Heterotopias: Site and Community


The Bridge
The Catacombs
Tranquility City


SHA and Hut Dweller Differences from Other Homeless Populations
Collective and Individual Gains


7. Conclusions


Challenging the Disappearance of Jobs, Housing, and Health Care
Challenging City Redevelopment Strategies
Service-Learning: A Pedagogy to End Homelessness?
Individual versus Collective Empowerment


Appendix: San Jose's Housing Shortage




Discusses the impact of inner city redevelopment programs and policies on the homeless and shows the methods used (civil protests, squatting, and legal advocacy) by the homeless to organize a tactical resistance to restructuring efforts. Presents case studies of two different types of homeless organized resistance groups in Chicago and San Jose.


Winner of the 1998 Distinguished Scholarship Award of the Section on Marxist Sociology of the American Sociological Association

Homeless persons find themselves excluded, repressed, and displaced in all sectors of everyday life--from punitive police and city zoning practices to media stereotypes. Wandering through the streets of developing cities, these poorest of the poor have no place to go. More and more, these city developments are not simply accepted passively; rather, resistance by organized homeless groups--civil protests, squatting, and legal advocacy--spread as conditions of everyday life deteriorate for the very poor.

Out of Place: Homeless Mobilizations, Subcities, and Contested Landscapes details the development of two organized homeless resistances in two different cities. From the redevelopment protesters and squatting activities of the Student-Homeless Alliance in San Jose to the squatter camps of Tranquility City in Chicago, the differences and similarities between both groups are highlighted within the context of city redevelopment policies. Wright argues for considering homelessness not merely as an issue for social welfare, but first and foremost as a land use issue directly connected to issues of gentrification, displacement, and the cultural imaginings of what the city should look like by those who have the power to shape its development.

How the homeless combat the restructurings of everyday life, how they attempt to establish a "place" is understood within the context of tactical resistances. Questions of collective identity and collective action are raised as a result of the successful organizing efforts of homeless groups who refuse to be victims. The struggle between individual and collective forms of empowerment is highlighted, with the conclusions pointing to the necessity to rethink and go beyond the traditional solutions of more housing and job training.

Talmadge Wright is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Loyola University. He coauthored, with Mary Jo Huth, International Critical Perspectives on Homelessness.


"Wright's significant book is among the few that present life on the street through the eyes of the participants, providing a much needed and unique vantage point. " — David Wagner, University of Southern Maine