backgound Counter Narratives
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This research begins with the trial implosion of Pruitt-Igoe’s three towers, which represents the first public housing demolition in America, and ends with the farewell ritual Cabrini-Green community performed to the last remaining tower, the ultimate survivor of a long process of urban transformation that culminated in 2011 with the destruction of all of Chicago’s public housing high-rises. While each of these performances of demolition present significant differences, in context, time, technique and the traces they left, both constituted a spectacle.

This spectacle of demolition, I argue, became a powerful instrument of erasure and re-inscription, capable of re-configuring the narrative of the ultimate symbol of public in America, whileerasing any evidence ofa complex history of racial segregation, and political and economic interests. Analyzing the genealogy of this spectacle, byexamininghow demolition was manufactured, how it was performed, and what traces did it leave, I seek to demonstrate how the spectacle of demolition operated in the context of American public housing as a performance of total control. This is, a performance that by stigmatizing an architectural structure and the racialized bodies of its inhabitants as symbols of decay, becomes a medium for “clearing the ground,” capable of destroying what has been targeted as “blight,” and of re-inscribing the official narrative of public policies’ failure in the collective memory of American population, concealing past memories with that instant of spectacular disappearance, while framing a future of public absence. Performing this spectacle of demolition, I conclude, represents the final victory over the public, the re-construction of a speculative scenario of “equality” built on privatization and whiteness.

THERE THERE architecture