Shadows of a Sunbelt City
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Shadows of a Sunbelt City

The Environment, Racism, and the Knowledge Economy in Austin

Title Details

Pages: 192

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 03/15/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4489-8

List Price: $25.95


Pub Date: 03/15/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4488-1

List Price: $120.95


Pub Date: 03/15/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4909-1

List Price: $25.95

Shadows of a Sunbelt City

The Environment, Racism, and the Knowledge Economy in Austin

A counternarrative to a popular perception of Austin as a progressive city

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  • Description
  • Reviews

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.

Shadows of a Sunbelt City offers an important new interpretation of Austin’s twentieth-century urban history and more recent political-economic transformation into a putatively high-tech 'smart city of knowledge.' A stimulating intervention into one of this country’s fastest growing cities, Eliot Tretter's study questions and significantly advances our current understanding of an impressive range of literatures.

—Yonn Dierwechter, author of Urban Growth Management and Its Discontents: Promises, Practices, and Geo-politics in U.S. City Regions

The book illuminates the unusual circumstances that shaped the political economy of the University of Texas and its relationship with both the city and the state. Tretter recovers an important and largely untold story in showing that Austin’s development has not been a giant love fest or an unalloyed good… Ultimately, Shadows of a Sunbelt City provides a welcome corrective to anodyne cheerleading about the “creative class” and the wonders of high-tech development.

—Alex Sayf Cummings, Journal of Social History

As a disciplinary manner, some historians may find Shadows of a Sunbelt City: The Environment, Racism, and the Knowledge Economy in Austin less a history of UT’s and Austin’s intertwined development than a set of essays that use history to (again, effectively) debunk influential development pieties.

—Michan Connor, Journal of Southern History

Shadows of a Sunbelt City offers a compelling analysis of the power that universities wield in regional development and their complicity in reshaping the urban form to benefit powerful actors, often at the expense of vulnerable residents. As he examines how policy and social relations transform cities, Tretter challenges the narrative that sustainable urban policy, and the knowledge economy that undergirds it, is universally beneficial.

—Andrew M. Busch, Southern Spaces

About the Author/Editor

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