Racialization and Racism

The sedimentation of whiteness as landscape

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, one of the axioms of a “just recovery” was to redevelop the city’s historic high ground. While the call to limit the city’s footprint problematized low-lying geographies, the majority of which were Black, it ignored Lakeview, a low-lying, predominantly white neighborhood devastated by Katrina. Despite its vulnerability to flooding, Lakeview has thrived in the years following Katrina. Property values are rising and public and private investments are rolling in. Lakeview’s unquestioned future and its (re)valorization in the wake of the storm speak to how racial regimes of property have informed the reconstruction of the city and to the role that urban planning plays in constructing and valorizing landscapes of whiteness. This paper interrogates the ongoing lives of whiteness, asking how whiteness operates as an invisible substrate within planning and property regimes. Utilizing the concept of sedimentation, it explores how planning takes part in concretizing racial formation processes and suggests that the project of sustaining white geographies lays bare deeper questions about the ways that planning enacts multi-scaled, racialized regimes of property. This article excavates the emergence of Lakeview from the backswamps of a delta city to examine the unquestioned valorizations of whiteness as a landscape.

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Volume 40 Issue 2

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