Peaceful Little Revolutions in Diversifying Suburbia: Repackaging Racism and Displacing Poverty in Sandy Springs, Georgia

Project: Research project

Project Details


An affluent, traditionally white, and staunchly Republican suburb of Atlanta, Sandy Springs incorporated as an autonomous municipality in 2005. The incorporation marked the end of a three-decade struggle engaged by residents and community activists against Atlanta and Fulton County to free themselves from what they perceived as the burden of financing welfare and public services in the low-income, majority-African American areas of South Fulton. Taking advantage of Sandy Springs' unique positioning at the intersection of trends of re-segregation of white suburban elites, privatization of government functions, and growing suburban diversity, my research seeks to understand how this decades-long project of city-building and place-making has changed under the impact of recent demographic shifts. Through ethnographic fieldwork, I will investigate the "colorblind" spatial, discursive, and governmental techniques that homeowners, activists, and political leaders use to govern poor minorities and maintain white privilege. At the same time, I will document the impacts these neoliberal strategies and racially-coded discourses have on the everyday lives of low-income residents of color, identifying possible tactics for coping with and organizing against municipal decisions. By offering a cross-class, cross-racial, and cross-gender portrait of an increasingly polarized "New South" suburb, my project complicates existing analyses of U.S. suburbs as "either" bulwarks of political conservatism "or" new destinations for migrants and the working poor. Through a gendered and racialized suburban lens, this research also contributes to and expands literature on gentrification, the privatization of public space, and neoliberal welfare restructuring.
Effective start/end date9/1/1512/31/16


  • Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Gr. 9058)


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