Decolonizing Suburban Research

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  • Decolonizing Suburban Research1
    Rob Shields, Human Geography EAS and Sociology, University of Alberta.
    North American Suburbs have been treated as sites of a collective amnesia concerning previous patterns of occupation and occupants. As ‘Greenfield sites’ they often either lack history or local history is shallow, rarely extending back before the agricultural tenants of the last century. A number of critics have pointed out that Indigeneity, migrancy and ethnicity have received less attention in urban and suburban research than they should have (Dasgupta and Gururani 2018:42; Keil 2013; Roy 2011). This chapter considers the challenges of researching past occupation that has often been erased along with removal of the flora and fauna and, commonly, even the topsoil (see also Overburden, 2009). Recent literature on the ‘decolonization’ of urban and suburban research that draws on Postcolonial critique and theories of Settler Colonial Society to open a new vantage point on suburbia. North American suburbs are not greenfield sites after all. They are intersectional sites of a ‘colonial matrix’ or logic that combines capitalism, colonialism, nationalism and modernity. This background provides the basis for new methods that are being developed to study suburbs.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International