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Shadows of a Sunbelt City: The Environment, Racism, and the Knowledge Economy in Austin

Shadows of a Sunbelt City: The Environment, Racism, and the Knowledge Economy in Austin


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Austin, Texas, is often depicted as one of the past half century’s great urban successstories—a place that has grown enormously through “creative class” strategies emphasizing tolerance and environmental consciousness. In Shadows of a Sunbelt City, Eliot Tretter reinterprets this familiar story by exploring the racial and environmental underpinnings of the postindustrial knowledge economy. He is particularly attentive to how the University of Texas—working with federal, municipal, and private-sector partners and acquiring the power of eminent domain—expanded its power and physical footprint. He draws attention to how the university’s real estate endeavors shaped the local economy and how the expansion and upgrading of the main campus occurred almost entirely at the expense of the more modestly resourced communities of color that lived in its path.

This book challenges Austin’s reputation as a bastion of progressive and liberal values, notably with respect to its approach to new urbanism and issues of ecological sustainability. Tretter’s insistence on documenting and interrogating the “shadows” of this important city should provoke fresh conversations about how urban policy has contributed to Austin’s economy, the way it has developed and changed over time, and for whom it works and why. Joining a growing critical literature about universities’ effect on urban environments, this book will be of interest to students at all levels in urban history, political science, economic and political geography, public administration, urban and regional planning, and critical legal studies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820344898
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Series: Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation Series , #27
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,085,628
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

ELIOT M. TRETTER is an assistant professor of geography at the University of Calgary.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Part I Forces of Growth

Chapter 1 The Making of a Globalized Austin: The Environment, Racism, and the Knowledge Economy 11

Chapter 2 The Value of Knowledge: The Expansion of the University of Texas, Urban Renewal and the Blackland 33

Chapter 3 Bringing In the State: State Entrepreneurialism, the University, Land Development, and the High-Technology Sector 57

Part II Urban Transformations

Chapter 4 Sustaining a Higher Quality of Life: The Environment, Crime, and the Remaking of Austin's Downtown 79

Chapter 5 Contesting Sustainability: "Smart Growth" and the Redevelopment of Austin's East Side 96

Chapter 8 What Is Past Is Prologue: Urban Governance, Comprehensive Planning, and Political Reform 114

Reflections Outside the Shadows 141

Bibliography 151

Index 175

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