From Grunge to Glimmer

My AAG abstract:

From Grunge to Glimmer: Building the New Seattle

For Althusser (2014), the dominant Ideological State Apparatus was the school-family dyad, with the school playing the overwhelmingly dominant role. But in an era of uneven planetary urbanization (cf. Brenner 2015) this assessment must be elaborated to include the wide range of “collective apparatuses” (Genosko 2015) through which capitalist relations of production are sustained and transformed. In Seattle, the rise of sustainability culture since the mid-1950s and the birth of the state-mandated growth management in 1990 are two phenomena that have unfolded along separate but increasingly interrelated lines, and together they help realize the largest and most controversial urban redevelopment projects in the area.

Two such projects are primarily being developed by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s real estate company: South Lake Union, a growing high-tech, biotech, and global health district and Yesler Terrace, the oldest public housing project in the city which is currently being transformed into a mixed-use and mixed-income neighborhood. By turning to the range of discourses that created the conditions for these projects, as well as the rich archive that accompanies their development, we can pinpoint how these two lines resonate to actively channel flows of capital into a considered and sustainable yet increasingly inequitable, stratified, and bland built environment, namely: a history of liberal, middle-class activism focused on quality of life issues and economic development; an initial centralization of power and responsibility in governmental bodies that has become increasingly distributed across a wide range of stakeholders; and finally, a shift from reactive policies to proactive planning from the state- down to the neighborhood-level.


Althusser, Louis. 2014. On The Reproduction Of Capitalism: Ideology And Ideological State Apparatuses. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian. London ; New York: Verso.

Brenner, Neil. 2015. “The Urban Age in Question: Towards a New Epistemology of the Urban.” Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, March 27.

Genosko, Gary. 2015. “Megamachines: From Mumford to Guattari.” Unpublished conference paper.

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One Response to From Grunge to Glimmer

  1. Keith Harris says:

    Reblogged this on Becoming Poor and commented:

    i’ll send this to the portland mini-conf folks too…

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