Jessie L. Speer F'17
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2017
Reimagining Home: Homeless Narratives As a Critique of Urban Housing
Over the past decade, new oral history archives and self-publishing platforms have led to an explosion in the production of memoirs and oral histories of homelessness. This project frames the growing genre of homeless life narratives as a form of subaltern urban theory. Based on close readings of hundreds of memoirs and oral histories of homelessness from cities across the United States, this research highlights the violent geographies of US housing, in which both political economies of urban development and heteropatriarchal cultures of domesticity produce racialized and gendered cycles of displacement. Further, it enables a radical reimagining of domestic space as a potential site of collective appropriation and mutual care, rather than alienation, consumption, and violence. In centering subaltern voices and analyzing the connections between economic and intimate politics, this work advances a Marxist-feminist and postcolonial approach to the study of US cities.