Descriptive Colonialism

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Gentrification occurs in cities as a strategy of renovating previously inhabited spaces to cater to outside population’s of affluence. This strategy is implemented through the tactics of the beautification of the space which, consequently increases property values. As a result, the increased property values displace the original residents and replaces them with wealthier newcomers. In many ways, the earliest form of gentrification, or settler colonialism, aimed to invade and replace indigenous populations by enforcing a new distinctive identity and establish a sovereignty. In other words, the spatial practice of settler colonialism is embedded in the productive power of what is thought of as racially superior population with the excuse of “improving empty landscapes”. Under settler colonialism, the key resource is land in which “land acquisition works through violence, erasure, and spatial technologies and planning to tame racial ‘others’ and their disorderly landscapes”. Today, the fraudulent schemes of settler colonialism transpire in cities such as Detroit, Michigan through the practice of planned “green gentrification”. In, Greening the urban frontier: Race, property, and resettlement in Detroit, the author, Sara Safransky, argued how Detroit city officials subjected “vacant lots” to the modern system of settler colonialism through the “urban greening” project in the name of city “productivity”. The city faced issues with “vacant lots” next to otherwise
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