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A Crack in the Glass: Short Ethnography From Detroit BY ADHAM KAREEM AFIFI A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology Under the sponsorship of Maria D. Vesperi Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS To my father, thank you. To my mother, goodbye. And to all the children, congratulations!
iii TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iii LIST OF FIGURES iv ABSTRACT v INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER I DEATH 8 CHAPTER II STRUCTURE 16 CHAPTER III MOVEMENT 26 CHAPTER IV COMMUNITY 35 CHAPTER V POWER 45 CONCLUSION 52 REFERENCES 61
iv LIST OF FIGURES Fig.1 my grandfather with the family car, age six 5 Fig.2 the empty lobby of one of the Douglass Towers 9 Fig. 3 on the side of the home 16 Fig. 4 Lee Plaza Hotel Room 24 Fig.5 we noted the sign as introductions were made 27 Fig. 6 the pews 28 Fig. 7 the pavement of Detroit sidewalks 57 Fig.8 59
v A Crack in the Glass: Short Ethnography from Detroit Adham Kareem Afifi New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT Over the past two decades the city of Detroit has developed a dangerous reputation in the eyes of the American public, claiming the title of United States Murder Capital time and time again. This notoriety, however, is pres ent in the same token, Detroit is popularly associated with poverty and economic collapse, yet many in the city have developed effective methods for maintaining the vitality of their communities. My research in Detroit was conducted over a period of six months, living in two neighborhoods and attending one Pentecostal church. It is the purpose of this thesis to at once examine the reasons for such apparent contradictions, and to put forth alternative ideas about Detroit in the form of stories both heard and experienced. Maria D. Vesperi Division of Social Sciences
1 Introduction Of all the changes of language a traveler in distant lands must face, none equals that which awaits him in the city of Hypatia, because the change regards not words, but things... Signs form a language, but not the one you think you know. Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities There is a strange and heretical quality to the language of signs in Detroit. Roadways still signal travel and commerce; skyscrapers remain emblems of progress and power; storefronts even retain their references to good s and services. The context of the city, however, distorts the relationship between each of these referents and its corresponding symbol. Sometimes this change means total inversion, as is the case with the glittering GM Renaissance Center. Its provenance no longer leads to prosperity but to recession and layoffs. Other times it appears as diffusion: streets blocked by people taking respite with friends and drink. Or as absence: convenience stores that stock nothing more than liquor, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. The type of alteration is not as significant as the unifying aspect among such modified or defied symbols. They raise challenges to dominant narratives about the function of capitalism in society. Fences that are only frames, their silver mesh lo ng since ripped away and their control of space gone with it. Stretches of empty storefronts now
2 ligh ts that no longer function, or, if they do, seem all but meaningless to drivers. The dominant narrative of American capitalism is itself a ruin to the people of Detroit who have felt its destructive potential and lived in its dark underside: as paint peels neon drains and signs fall, the language of capitalism falls apart and loses force. The prioritizing mechanisms of the political economic system are visible to those people (that city) whom it places at the bottom; the interpolative force of ideology doe s not act so intensely upon those who are its last concern, for they have no money with which to consume, no utilizable skills with which to work for the new market. The city and its denizens are far from the top, from the seat/teat of power. Paradoxically as they are pushed closer to death, they develop a vantage point from which they view the dissimulated mechanisms of society. Their senses are sharpened, made critical in the absence of power. Jackie, a middle aged ex prostitute. repeating the last four words again and again and again. The idea that a way of life and an affective space could themselves be social critique is w hat first attracted my attention to the field of anthropology and what ultimately led to this thesis. The methodology of my fieldwork, if such a term is even deserved or appropriate, was chance. In a city with few remaining ent was wandering, and most of my ethnographic material came from whomever and whatever I happened to cross paths with, as well as the meandering paths themselves. This is also the form I attempt to achieve in the writing of this thesis, less concerned wit h complete or
3 unbroken thoughts than with the drifting and disjointed movement between one thought and the next. In Ordinary Affects, Kathleen Stewart makes a case for ethnography written with this type of mimetic attention. Her point is to shape a text t hat carries the same weight as its objects of interest: This book tries to slow the quick jump to representational thinking and evaluative critique long enough to find ways of approaching the complex and uncertain objects that fascinate because they litera lly hit us or exert a pull on us. My effort here to collect them into a good but to fashion some form of address that is adequate to their form. (2007: 4) While I do not claim to address a content of my thesis. In this sense I must also pay homage to the theoretical and ficto critical works of Michael Taussig (1980; 1997; 2009; 2011), and the poetic historical theories of Charles Olson (1950; 1970). Without their influences, my interest in style and form would not have developed beyond simple curiosity. My research began in the summer of 2011, when my sister Alex and I Detroiters as both the heart and the ass of the city. The people I met while living there, mostly wanderers themse lves, became a beacon of hope for my growing academic anxieties. They taught me that not everyone is blinded by the forms of social and economic control exerted on them. I returned the next summer equipped with IRB approval for my research, this time to a neighborhood between North Corktown and Mexicantown. The people I met that summer were
4 from a distinct social group an extended family of sorts that had been rooted in the neighborhood for three generations. My project, however, began long before I moved to Detroit, even before I came to New College. My attachment to this thesis started with my birth and extended throughout my childhood and adolescence in rural northwestern Michigan. Detroit was both a fixture of the geographical landscape and a figure in around Detroit for three generations, two of which were anchored in the automotive industry. My great grandfather worked for Ford Motor Company as a tool and die maker until his de ath in the workplace in 1952, when he suffered transmission and chassis division until he retired in 1986. o f which stretches back to the original ideological roots of Fordism, and the parents were dating, my father came to visit and parked his Toyota in the driveway of my grandparen he had to move the car elsewhere. It was not a Ford not even American made. principle for someone who had spent his whole lif e making cars.
5 Fig.1 my grandfather with the family car, age six The people I met during my research, nearly 30 years later, were the from both the ivory towers of academia and the white fences of suburbia, took no issue with disjunction or contradiction and drew its power from what temptations. When Jackie told me that Mayor Dave Bing was trying to steal her eyes, I was instead tempted to believe her eerie proclamation outright. Likewise, the man who told me the story of the COLDBOYS did more than conspire or comment. His associations were sharp and he, more than any social critic, was
6 able to concretize the confounding relationship of production and reproduction between individuals and institutions. Alex and I stood outside of Slows Barbecue, across from the abandoned train station. The smoke from our cigarettes rose, blending with the smoke from the pit and the heavy July air. We were caught in the haze and suddenly ano ther was, too: an older black man wearing a navy long sleeved turtleneck and faded gray jeans, his face shining with sweat, his clothes flattened with put his hand on my shoulder, pointing to a white collared white man who was quickly exiting the barbecue joint with an arm over the shoulder of a more than an offhanded insult. He danced the curb, one foot on the grassy sidewalk, the other on the worn cobblestone street. It used to be a main street and it is still lined with brick storefronts, crammed in one after the other for a mile with graffiti layered over the old painted advertisements. The street cuts through downtown about two miles to the east, and sometimes young professionals come for barbecue on their lunch breaks. smell his breath cut through the smoke and haze. It made the cooking meat smell rotten. I tried to keep my eyes on his but felt them watering. carrying a thick stack of wayward wrinkl ed papers right as he pulled one from
7 the middle. It was a clouded photocopy of page 1335 of a dictionary, from commands, restricti ons, wishes, or instructions of: to command, restriction, wish, instruction, etc.). 3. (of things) to respond conformably in action to: The car obeyed the slightest touch of the steering wheel. our mother and father, but now all we all do is obey. Get on the bus, obey the He handed me another piece of paper, this one handwritten in thick institutions enormous and tiny: Euclid Motel, Bank of America, Motor City Casino, Quicken Loans, Norm Alex and I shared a quick glance, but he was already a block away. We ran after him. When we caught up I offered him the sheets of paper.
8 Death houses of Heidelberg outhouse cracked house destroyed funhouse lost and found house of dead dolls Harryette Mullen, Muse & Drudge Detroit evokes images of death and decay in the contemporary most prevalent understanding in surrounding suburban areas (and less pointedly, in the suburban spaces across the nation) holds that Detroit is fraught with racial violence, i.e., blacks robbing and killing whites, due to the economic and social collapse Detroit has seen. When my sister and I revealed to our family from the Detroit suburbs that we would be living in the city during the summer utioning her that the most abandoned parts of the city would be the most dangerous for by, you might be stabbed for your pocket change and your shoes and your phone, you might be hurt or you might die for your money, for your possessions, for your year old sense of death within Detroit is very different. From the multitude of stuffed animals that symbolize a dead friend, to the words of ex
9 informed us that, quite l (a blunt) conversation in the empty lobby of one of the Douglass Towers, there is an affect exuded by the space that suggests profound awareness, if not outright reverence of death. Fig.2 the em pty lobby of one of the Douglass Towers Harrison, whom I met outside the abandoned Michigan Central train station, asked me if I knew what it was like to be on the verge of starvation. One of our first neighbors, a 13 year old boy named Jamal, said his gre atest fear was me of his dream that the city was filled with zombies or vampires waiting for their chance to strike out against the living. In the summer of 2012 I learned of plans to start a zombie themed amusement park (Headline: "ZOMBIES IN THE
10 D"). But a sense that my skin color or my possessions would be the catalyst for violence was som ething the people I met in Detroit did not embody. Some have, to varying extents, internalized this narrative: Ali told us not to go out without number and the promise of protec tion, claiming that we only needed to speak his name and our hypothetical attackers would apologize and walk away. But my overwhelming sense is that whoever these highwaymen are, laying in wait for us in the city, they were not the people we met or saw. I would assert that this disjointed sense of literal death refers to a larger distinction between representation and experience within Detroit. Death, as seen from the outside, comes from a death of order the lack of police and the flight of big business m ore than the real risk of death that one faces on the streets. This couple the physical lives of people with the metaphysics of capitalism. Within the city, however, mortality is the case with the resources afforded to the modern bourgeoisie. Instead, death is never far away. As the orders of c apitalism wither in Detroit, and the protective dead in their ghost town not empty, but full of ghosts. As Nietzsche famously says in The Gay Science, saying that death is the opposed to The experience of a space such as this, one that exudes the dissolution of structure, physical and ideological, by the same token prod uces a new sense of
11 life outside the established order. Despite the notions of the city presented in the media and perhaps consequently in the imaginations of suburbanites, Detroit has become the ground for a new way of leading a life outside the $ublime $pectacle of modern capitalism, detached from its metaphysics and radically grounded in death. The myth of the highwayman in Detroit does have its real expressions. During my first summer in the city I was robbed, but the story is funnier than it is fri ghtening. It was my first week there. While I was out looking for someplace to buy a bike, I ran into a stocky 20 something with a short, wiry beard. I recognized him immediately. I had passed him a few days earlier by the then abandoned, now demolished, o ld motel on MLK. He was wearing the same dirty yellow and brown tracksuit and trying to push some coke that looked more like sand in a ziplock baggie. He nodded at me, and I slowed. His eyes flashed for a moment before snatching the cigarette from my said the cheapest bike they could sell me was 250. My neighbor told me about this hardware store on Third that sells used
12 Oh yea, yea, that place. I can show you where that is actually knuckles skyward. Our conversation wandered through our life stories as we walked down MLK pa st the highway. He was 28. His name was J. His mother, he said, had Earlier in that month he had made the money for a bus ticket back, but some assholes jumped him and took the bills he had stuffed into the lining of his jacket. So he was stuck here for a while. outta white boys l and turned on Lincoln, a nowhe re street next to an empty lot and the church featured in the made for TV movie Have A Little Faith No more than ten steps down Lincoln I felt a hand rest on my shoulder.
13 aged man in a red t shirt looki ng at me. He was taller than his friend, but not by much. end of a broken chopstick. Finally, he pulled out my debit card. the piece of plastic flying. s the field. I turned to his companion who was still standing with me on the though, you know what I mean? Something in his h contents of my wallet. By the time I made it home, my sister had already started preparing our second easy mac dinner in a row. As I finished my story, I could tell she wasn't listening. "Why are you always on your phone?"
14 She rolled her eyes. "I'm texting him, you idiot!" [can you give my brother his phone back?] It wasn't long before we got a response. need it to get a bus ticket home.] sandwich for it.] die.] [i can give you food! meet me somewhere.] [how can i trust you not to call the cops?] [ok, meet me at detroit receiving. but no cops.] The rendezvous was, unfortunately, impossible. Of the 16 h ospitals in Detroit, Detroit Receiving turned out to be located in a complex of eight major hospitals, six of which had street level emergency rooms. By the time we managed to cross the city and find the ER specific to our purposes, we were nearly an hour late. The service to my phone was canceled the moment my While this story may read like a watered swallow the fea rful words of relatives or internet bloggers, but my first and only
15 experience with potential violence confirmed my suspicions. The violence was neither rampant nor recreational, and from what I saw it had less to do with race than it did resources. J need ed a bus ticket and a sandwich; There were, of course, examples of racially motivated violence, but they were not what I was told to expect. One day at home I decided to search for all the reported crimes within a 24 hour span. The only result was not from the city, but from the greater metropolitan area: three white men had assaulted a six year old black girl outside the showing of The Smurfs in Livonia. They threw a soda out of a and results of suburban anxieties about racial violence in Detroit. My point is not to specifically address the ills of racism, but to indicate the gap between an imagined land scape of gang, drug, or simply mindless violence, and the reality of an anxiety driven backlash from those very same fantasies. The backlash here is physical, but the violence I am more concerned with is representational. By making Detroit out to be a dead and dangerous place, representations of the city are not simply condemning the practices of Detroiters, but rendering Detroit vulnerable to all varieties of capitalist endeavor s can be reincorporated, without waste, back into the heroic narrative of burning wreck. Not from the inevitable catastrophe of progress, of course, but nate history of racial violence and drug abuse.
16 Structure Out on one of our walks, my sister and I passed by an abandoned green home covered with different signs. At the top it read Nov. 5, and at the base a Christlike figure stood covered with blood red paint. The doorway was empty. Beyond it, the floor was covered with old books. One side of the home is painted a matte black, and over it a poem has been scrawled three times in white. Fig. 3 on the side of the home
17 We remember that when people lose their lives as a consequence of injustice their spirit wanders, unable to pass over seeking resolution. We remember that our lives are a continuation of those who have come before, and that many of those who are our kin have died as a consequence of i njustice and so are wandering seeking resolution. We remember that as long as the souls of our kin wander then so too do we and so we make places for their souls to be. We are helped to remember our right to be here. We are helped to remember our responsibility to create our justice daily. We do. This place is a memorial for Malice Green, a young black man murdered by two white police officers on November 5th, 1992. He was killed during a traffic stop for allegedly refusing to relinquish a vial of crack to the arresting 14 times (Holewa 1992). My sister and I entered the house. Inside the first room there were still candles set above a clutch of dirty stuffed animal s. There were several cinder blocks arranged in a hemisphere around the shrine, with books and paper scraps
18 of varying age obscuring the floorboards. In the second room there was a sewing machine amid shards of wood that were once a desk and the remnants o f a mattress; the third was a tower of brick leading up from the basement and out to an open sky. We lit the candles as we left, curious about the sense of both death and memory there. Ten paces down the street we heard a loud crack as the ceiling in the f irst room collapsed. We counted our lucky stars after we finally stopped running. At the time of its dedication, the memorial windows were plastered with newspaper cutouts and civil rights media. There were messages of both love and of indignation marking later rule. 1 Some 20 years later, the structure is windowless and collapsing. It is no longer a functional home, but, as the small candle shrine suggests, it is still a functioning memorial. Mu ch like the poem says, this is a place for the souls of the dead and a continual reminder for the living. Buildings such as this one abound in Detroit. Paul Abowd, a local historian and journalist, tells the story of the Brewster Douglass housing projects. Th ey were well planned and appeased residents through simple things such as offering paint for their rooms and a sense of self governance, he writes (Abowd 2011). However, this representation is disingenuous. After the initial phases of development and maint enance, the housing projects fell into major disrepair. 1 F Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers, guilty of murder in the second degree. Howev er, in 1997, Walter Budzyn appealed his sentence on the grounds that his jury had been allowed to watch Malcolm X during breaks in the trial. While the movie had been supplied along with many other popular his conviction was reduced to involuntary manslaughter and his sentence was reduced to time already served. (Vaughn 1998)
19 Thousands of complaints flooded the office of public housing. On one trip to the Brewster homes, I found a waterlogged red book underneath a courtyard bench. The volume, published by the Housing and U rban Development (HUD) board overseeing housing complaints, documents the issues raised by tenants. Within this book of records, concerns range from elevators that had been out of operation for years or never fully functional, to the need for heightened se curity, to simple requests for brighter colors on the walls. Most of these complaints were simply sifted through the bureaucratic system. HUD management responses categorically urged residents to take their concerns to other departments or, alternatively, maintained that the board would have to wait to discuss these issues in future years of renovation. In 1994, massive renovations were scheduled to begin on the Brewster Douglass projects, and many residents tions were eventually made permanent when the structures were deemed beyond repair and abandoned. (Abowd 2011) Today, the projects are empty of registered residents (the unregistered residents number around 40), but its history is not yet forgotten by Detr oiters. The Brewster Old Timers and others like them from housing projects across the about living among The Supremes, Lily Tomlin, Diana Ross, and other famous Brews ter resident s of recent history Abowd also writes of the Brewster Douglas 75, but you see right
20 than concrete holes against the horizon for commuters. They blend into the backdrop of the city. But the idea of those windowless towers all but fading into the Detroit landscape has wider implicat ions. The towers are certainly not the only structures in disrepair. The entire city is often said to be on the brink of collapse, with each building at risk of total consumption by the ground beneath it. Theorists have discussed societal insecurity regard ing the fragility of modernity the insecurity that inevitably everything will be reclaimed and engulfed by nature. Brian Dillon has detailed this kind of fragility when discussing the growth of the bomb weed flora overtaking sites after blitzkrieg trauma takes up this same concern with nature engulfing the history of modernity, claiming that it can be seen as ironic if modernity valorizes rupture and change. This overgrown or untended quality of the spaces in Detroit, however, is hardly a point of insecurity shared by many residents of th e city. The empty lots and overgrown homes and factories become the space for squatters, vigils, parties, or even a casual game of horseshoes. These spaces are not made uninhabitable by the incursion of nature or decay. They are more and more spaces of hab itation be it for rest or recreation, as they represent space outside the traditional commodity structure of property. In some cases, empty spaces in urban landscapes are the products of collapse. This has been my line of suggestion thus far. Such spaces are conflated
21 with the lawlessness and undesirability of drug dealers or hobos. Sites of single type of va cancy in fact, do 8) This line of reasoning is well sui ted for considering the cultural narratives about Detroit. The warnings I received before beginning my research came from the memories of suburbanites who refused to cross into the city. These are es. McDonogh presents another underpinning to vacated spaces that has become more relevant to Detroit in the past few years, the notion of imposed cultural values and imposed emptiness (1993). In 2011 Mayor Dave Bing began a campaign to redistribute the ci neighborhoods. In those areas labeled distressed by a 2010 Detroit Works study, seniors are no longer eligible for emergency home rep airs, streetlights are not powered, trash is not collected, and roads are not plowed. Taxes in these neighborhoods, however, remain the same (Angel 2012). By redefining these to exclude the vast empty spaces that it have long characterized it. This is also an attempt to redefine Detroit in terms of its associations, to remove the specter of emptiness from its cultural subtitle. But, as McDonogh notes, spatial
22 remaining population is successful or not, the empty spaces of the city will persist in one way or another, as will the social conflict they indicate. Some have capitalized on this perceived empt are appropriated in ways that often have less to do with their history and more to do with their aesthetic value. I am mainly referring to two similar trends. One is selective preservation, cases like Michigan Central Station. This train depot, regularly redecorated with seasonal ornaments and serves as a visual accoutrement to the gentrified stretch of Michigan Avenue that is affectionately referr brothers, two land developers best known for their overpriced barbeque joint halls, fancy hotels, park ing garages and the transformation of rubble and ruins into sets for Hollywood movies. 2 Such restyling, removal and selective cond trend is an appropriation of the ruins that aims not only to utilize their appearance, but also to truly freeze them in time. all too often stops short at a simple romanticizing (2010: 773). This is precisely 2 Recently dozens of movies have been filmed in the city due to incentives from both the state of Michigan and Wayne County. Abowd ha s presented the community of roughly 40 squatters Terminator Oth er titles filmed in Detroit include Transformers, Scream 4, After the Bloodrush, and Game of Death. This is not uncommon; Dawdy has noted on a larger scale that many sites of urban decay are no w being used in post apocalyptic films.
23 high quality, wide angle shots capturing abandoned city spaces. These range from vacated homes to parking garages, museums, factories and whole city blocks. In the case of industrial ruins, the photographs are snapshots of history, but in the case of residences, they show personal possessions in represent ations that border on voyeurism. They offer an aestheticized and detached entry into a frozen urban past. to be the modern ahistorical (or faux historical) imaginary of ruins. That is, it would be unsettling if the phenomenon ended with simply sharing the photos. As it is, however, there is bourgeois interest in the images. Ruin Porn has become a commodity along with the ruins themselves. Photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (who are also top hits on a Google search of into a means for status and wealth. They sell their books for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. Ruins of Detroit ( available through Amazon from third party sellers for $330 $4,572) obviously titled, reproduces the ruins to be sold to the increasingly few who can afford them. In such representations, the real human context of the ruins is all but ignored. After all, it is incorrect to say that these places are empty. As I have read and observed first hand, they are often still inhabited.
24 Fig. 4 Lee Plaza Hotel Room: Marchand and Meffre found a lot of furniture and appliances http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1882089_1850983,00.html
25 The mode of production in modernity, of which rupture and replacement are the which was once the actual plan for the space, the buildings still stand. They do more than symbolize a ruined material past, more than serve as artistic and make room for a new layer of social functions This is the condition all over the city. During the summer of 2011, eight residents lived in decaying motel on MLK before Third Ave, only a few blocks from the dyed fountains and glass facades of downtown. By 2012 the building had been leveled, replaced by another plot of grass. There are dozens more southwest in the collections of overgrown and ruined lots between Grand River and Corktown. An old paint factory is the site for poetry readings and bonfires, and the Malice Green memorial, while transformed by decay, is still a place of reverence.
26 Movement There is a persistent and stable metaphor for time, as a line as linear; it is so ingrained in us to model time as a line that the idea of time and duration as distinct entities, with different geometries, scarcely arises. want it to end. Hardly want to swallow, amen. But you gotta, amen. Gotta finish eating if you want the nourishment of the Lord. Pastor John Thomas, 2012 I first happened upon New Pentecostal Outreach very much by accident. Alex and I decided to go out on one of our many walks that summer, heading west this time and ending up about two miles out in a neighborhood called Chadse y Condon. The sidewalk was a collection of greens and browns. Grass and shattered bottles. The sun was high in the sky and there was little shade to interrupt its heat. We deliberated over the next change in direction for our slow advance, passing in front of a peeling white facade populated by a small group of mostly middle aged adults and young children. One of them, a man of about 50 in an old black long sleeved shirt, crossed the street in earnest, calling to us: e over and talk with us a as introductions were made. phone and gesturing for us to stand in front of the sign, itself in front of an
27 overgrown parking lot. Click. The digital shutter sounded and we could relax our faces. Fig.5 we noted the sign as introductions were made to dive into some of the boxes for a gem. then. Bernadette, wife of James, the man who had hailed to us moments ago, chuckled knowingly. midday, midsummer sun. A young girl, maybe six years old, pawed at the skirt. Bernadette flip ped her pink shawl over one shoulder and took the child into her
28 lap. There was a gap as the clouds darkened the sidewalk, and then a smile. Bernadette looked up from the child. this one twice. The first time I smoked pot was in a Lutheran church the night my best friend lost his virginity, and my great Baptist church. But in all honesty: wrong idea about what we do here. This is a live church. Not one of them dead churches like they got everywh someone reading from the Bible. This is a foot stomping, hand clapping, God Fig. 6 the pews
29 We arrived at church half past noon the next Sunday, half an hour late, doing our best to look respectable. Inside, the building is one giant room 60 feet by 70. The white walls are painted with flecks of sparkling silver, and at the head o f the room is a raised platform. On it: a Bible, a pulpit, and an ornate chair. Behind that, a large cross. The pews, built for 100, held a quarter that. The electric jazz organ hummed to a halt as the large double doors clicked shut behind us. The boy pla ying turned to look at us. Everyone rose from their seats. The pastor stepped off the platform, as did the two men seated on either side of the pulpit. Bernadette and James were the first to greet us, a hug and a handshake each. The rest of the congregation followed, swarming us with welcoming gestures. Bernadette took my shoulders and turned me around, kissing my cheek. "This is Pastor Thomas." He parted the small crowd that had formed along the aisle, putting a hand on each of o ur shoulders. "Pastor, this is the family I told you about." yellowed. He held his glasses out at the end of his nose, looking us up and down our ven if you don't know the words."
30 Back at the podium, everyone in their seats: "Sorry for the in ter ruption. Not gettin' paid for nothing." He cracked another smile, dropping his shoulders to sway in perfect time with the enunciation. Had he made a joke? "Am I? Not in vain, no. Nothing in vain with God, amen. You toil, and God Take Him with you wherever y chord and began a loud, spirited tune. with the flow At this point the boy on drums broke into a heavy 3/4 pleased. He walked away from the pulpit bobbing his head up and down, picked up a bright red electric guit ar and began plucking along with the rest of the band. Everyone had risen from their seats. They were clapping or banging on tambourines and dancing. The children, most of whom had previously been asleep, were now crawling over the pews, shoving one anothe r playfully. Everyone was too busy to scold them, too busy even to notice. The girl to my left reached up and snatched the pen from my shirt pocket. She spent the next few minutes scribbling on a
31 folded sheet of paper, and, with a satisfied nod, passed the m both into my lap. The paper was part of a church handout. She had colored in the dove on its cover with black, and drawn a long oval around the heading of the first page: The Sunday services at New Pentecostal moved in fits, starting and stopping at i on the inside fold: prayer, scripture reading, mission offering, praise service, offering, announcements, the word of God, and finally, dismissal. This was deceiving, however. Aside from t he obvious break for offerings and dismissal, the sections tended to blend seamlessly into each other; at first it was hard for me to discern where one section ended and another began. Eventually I was able mark out what I thought roughly constituted each of the sections, but what continued confounding me was the schedule itself. Prayer, the general acknowledgement of suffering in the congregation and the collective appeal to God for help, inevitably collapsed into Praise, the giving of song or chant in the honor of Christ. Praise would be interrupted as a member of the church approached the podium to be anointed with oil and blessed by the word of God spoken through Pastor Thomas or else when the pastor himself broke his engagement with song or sermon and called upon someone to receive the blessing. Announcements for church functions were always laced with prayer
32 as we asked God to lend us strength in carrying out His mission and gave thanks for previous successes. Scripture Reading was a reinterpretation o f Biblical text that kept the musical effect of the Praise service but involved only those selected by the pastor. We would read a line from the chosen section and he would translate it into familiar language using everyday metaphors. The cheeseburger in m y epigraph is one such line, translated from a Bible quote about the grace of God. Each time he finished a translation the organ would flare up; if he carried on one line or idea too long, praise would begin again with the additional voices and music retur ning to the soundscape. Each section of the service was open to interruption by another, and the entire schedule was itself likely to be distracted by a spontaneous episode of glossolalia. I stood at the back of the church, trying to keep the beats of the tambourine against my wrist in time with the kick drum. Sister Ruby and McClendon was in front of me holding her white dress pulled up just past her knees as she danced breathlessly to the music. Her body began to list off to the right until she was out from the pews and into the middle of the aisle. Her dress fell back down to her ankles as she raised both hands above her head, fingers spread wide. At first I could hardly hear her above the music, but her low mumblings soon became pained moaning and passionate screams. As her voice and body reached for the same tremulous pitch, Pastor Thomas leaned his Sister McClendon, he placed one hand on her forehead and raised the other
33 above his own. After a moment he released his hand and the sister immediately collapsed into a heap on th e aisle floor. Drawing the pink satin handkerchief from his suit pocket, he placed it over her face and rejoined the song. The convulsive movement of and in the church is handled with such comfort that it fails to seem like interrupted motion. Instead, it is part of a broader continuity with the freedom to diverge and return without breaking stride. The leading of the Holy Spirit has been accounted for with an attitude towards time that defies timekeeping. I would like to situate this temporality in opposi tion to the restricted notion of segmented clock time by which one measures the working day. 3 In space time relies on just such segmentation. It separates experience into discrete, measurable durations. He describes this historical development as follows: Supported by the political machinery of the railroads and telegraph systems, astronomers were able to introduce the global syst em of minute ly accurate time zones and "standard times" that we accept without question today. Simultaneously, other scientists, led by Hermann von Helmholtz, categorized the minutiae of subjective duration: reaction times, the "persistence of vision," th e physiology of reflexes, and hundreds of other parameters of short term perceptual psychology were measured, categorized, and "explained" within the esoteric preserve of scientific discourse. (2004 : unpaginated) My experiences at New Pentecostal Outreach and in the city of Detroit rarely functioned along the mechanisms of standard time. Aside from my job waiting tables in a gentrified area on the Detroit River, there was little evidence that the 3 Time and the Other raises major questions about the politics behind distancing anthropological discourse from its object through both space and time.
34 clock held sway ov er the lives of Detroiters. Even church services had irregular limits, starting somewhere between 11:30 AM and 1 PM; ending anywhere from two to five. Once, after work, Alex and I went out for pizza with our young neighbor, Jamal. The sign on the door read: such luck. They were already closing by ten. When I asked one of the employees s of modern time: per hour, it was necessary for capital to impose calendrical and horological regularity upon the work force. As an instrument of social discipline and control, timekeeping was rapidly a nd effectively internalized by state subjects as an ethical principle linked to the self divisions serves as a mechanism for domination, then the city functions with little rec
35 Community I'll show you a city, and you tell me what city you think it is. Do you recognize it? I'll give yo u one clue. It's a city that, as rumor had it, would be uninhabitable for centuries to come because of radiation. This is Hiroshima. On August 6 th 1945 an atomic bomb completely destroyed more than 70 percent of the buildings, and by the end of the year, up to 140,000 had died. Look at the city then, almost half of the city's population in total died. Some 200,000 or more would eventually die from the effects. Now look at Hiroshima today. It's not wreckage... But, let me show you another city. Here's a cit y that, when Hiroshima looked like it did in destruction, well, it looked like this. It was thriving. It's Detroit, Michigan. But take a look at Detroit today. One city embraced the free market system, and the entrepreneurial spirit. The other embraced pro gressive policies and unions. Glenn Beck, Glenn Beck February 28, 2011 As Glenn Beck has it, economic policy is the most powerful technology known to man, more powerful than even the atomic bomb. Detroit serves in his argument as the perfect example of what happens when the individuating force of the American Dream buckles under the corruption of communist idealism. To a Detroiter, the implications of his point are more than just nauseating. However, his point rests on the assumption t hat the crumbling of capitalist order led to the so called downfall of Detroit, and it is with this assumption that I would like to investigate an alternative mode of subsistence in the wake of economic collapse. The community I lived in during the summer of 2012 included a dozen or so units comprised of anywhere between one and seven people, totaling around 30 individuals. While the web could surely be traced far beyond this estimate, even to the neighborhood where I lived in 2011, I can only endeavor to r epresent
36 the methods of exchange and subsistence within the limited scope of my experience. I found that, with the withering of an enforced economic order, the strategy for subsistence became overwhelmingly community oriented. The emphasis on private prope rty and monetary worth shrank, while the value of mutual dependence and craft oriented exchange grew. In order to develop a basis for this argument, it will be necessary to begin with a series of short descriptions. I cannot hope to include the entirety of the social network that I identify, but hope to lay the groundwork for my case by addressing those of its social actors that I came to know most closely. G lived just around the corner, at the edge of the block. He is an imposing man, at least six and a h alf feet tall, easily over three hundred pounds. His high cheekbones are accented with dark freckles, and when he smiles, the bent fish hook he keeps wedged in the gap between his bottom teeth protrudes over his bottom lip. As is often the case, his looks are deceiving. He is an enthusiastic father of three, two girls and a boy, and spends his time generously within the neighborhood. When I met him he was working as an off the books auto mechanic in an empty garage just off of Michigan Ave, fixing up busted and busting cars in exchange for money, food or beer mostly. He supplemented his craft by pickling and canning vegetables which he then distributed among the members of our neighborhood as an alternative form of currency. Alex and I spent some time workin g in the garden at Catherine Ferguson Academy, a long standing public school for pregnant teens which was nearly defunded by the city in 2012. Whatever produce we brought home cucumbers, tomatoes, or zucchini we would split with G as a processing fee.
37 Er ica, Tone and their two daughters, Jamie and Jamiah, lived in the apartment below mine. They were the only unit in the community that resembled a nuclear family. Though they have not yet married as I write, the couple got engaged in August of 2012 as I was completing my fieldwork. Erica is a hairdresser and a student, Tone, a stay at home father and small time drug dealer. Howard is a handsome, m ustached 50 something who lived alone with his two massive German shepherds, David and Goliath. He was one of the deacons at a nearby Lutheran Church and a prolific urban gardener. Even after repeated complaints from a local bar forced him to empty his chicken coops, Howard produced enough food to sell in bulk at the Eastern Farmers Market while still contributing su bstantially to the dozen or so dinner tables directly associated with his community. This meant that he and the members of his social economic web rarely bought food. Carmen Hall, also known as D Do (because of his nephews D, d, Dee, and dee) or Red (becau often stammered, as was his arthritic gait. His eyes, a cloudy hazel behind the thick lenses of his wireframes, made him look like a giant nocturnal bird. His only source of formal income was from handful of local schools that paid him to build and fix their computers. This netted him around $300 a month, just short
38 extended family, a complicated web of nieces, nephews and neighbors, solicited his expert ise in fixing their broken televisions, cameras or computer equipment, as well in building new devices from the spare parts that clutter every room in his house. to see someone in the neighborhood paid directly for anything but drugs. Instead Red took favors. When G needed parts for a sound system in his car, Red got a flat of pickled okra in return. When Tone and Erica wanted a birthday present for Jamie, Red repaired an old Macint osh that had been sitting unused in his kitchen and gave it to the young parents. No money changed hands, but when the end of the month arrived his bills were covered. While in some cases community members made direct claims to kinship with one another or blood associations were unavoidable, the practice of reinventing family as an inclusive social unit justified the style of open economic relations in our neighborhood. So it happened that my sister and I were introduced as cousins, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews when we entered new social situations. At a local dive bar, G introduced us as his kids; our drinks were on the house. Likewise, when a few of us went to a fish fry in a nearby hood, Red simplified matters and explained our presence by calling us his grandkids. Carol Stack, a sociologist working in a similar, but unidentified Midwestern urban community, quotes one of her neighbors on the subject of Rosy Bottom? Or regarded as relatively unimportant; contacts among people are intimate visits
39 rather than letter writing and there are few occasions to focus on formal s is one of the many strategies for In All Our Kin Stack works towards a model for urban alternative economies as extensive networks of kin that simultaneously serve as social and cost of rent and food in urban black communities, the collective power within kin : 33). Access to the network provides daily access to various everyday goods and her oil filter in the middle of the street not ten minutes later. The parts and labor were fre e for her, as were his drinks for the next week. Tone and Erica regularly building looking for he lp, they were always the first to offer. Howard brought sacks of potatoes and boxes of collard greens through the neighborhood every never had to buy weed for the thin joints he k ept tucked into the brim of his bucket cap, or the shave and wax he kept hidden under it. Donald would take out the trash and work as a handyman in exchange for a couch to crash on or the occasional harvest of empty bottles. When I first met him, we traded my col lection of empties for an old doo wop record he found in a dumpster while trash picking.
40 Sometimes trades were immediate exchanges, but often they happened over extended durations, requiring a sense of faith among members of the community. A quote f eight year e increased social importance of trust in a model of mutual dependence, the significance of broken trust also increases. While in my neighborhood, examples of economic transgressions were few and far between, there were still stories that warned of possibl e dangers in the here all the time, but mostly she was just asking for things. Asking for a ride or a bump on her rent. And I was okay helping her out where I could, but it got to be from me none, at least you gotta act like family. Last spring, I asked her to watch the kids, cause me and Erica snapped. Told
41 value but trust that holds the neighborhood economy together. The effects of such bonds (or their den ial) reach beyond individuals, implying themselves in the general life of the community. It would be a mistake, however, to reduce these relationships to economic ones, as their significance is equally social. A story rather more immediate to my experience will do well to help brother) and his three sons leaning on a car parked outside my building. This sic blasting from the car stereo. G was sitting on the curb about halfway down the block with his head in his hands. told him I gotta order a new one, so he can come back in a week. But the whole pick it up, he aske d if he could take it out to see if it was all good. I told him sure, and he drove out laughing. Never came back. I mean, we went to elementary
42 know he did cause he sellin dope. Some kind of dis After a few minutes of silence, Pook and his sons backed away from the car and joined us on the curb. The sound of screeching tires broke the quiet, and G shook hi s head. whe The implications of such an interaction are far reaching. More than just the shattered bond between G and Lado, the relationship between two groups in the larger system of the city is hinged on the affinities that this failed exchange embodies boundary for social action over which exchange and interaction become transgressive. In The World of the Gift, (1998) Jacques Godbout explains this phenomenon, the social primacy o The system of the gift is not first and foremost an economic system but the social system concerned with personal relationships. It is not simply a complement to the market or the state for it is even more fund amental and primary than these other systems, as we can see in countries that are in chaos. In the East or in the Third World, where the market and the state are in shambles, there still remains, as the last resort, that network of interpersonal relations consolidated by the gift and mutual aid, which alone enables one to survive in a mad world. (1998: 10)
43 So it follows that interpretations like that of Sudhir Venkatesh in Off the Books, which hold that networks like this are built to supplement incomes (V enkatesh 2006: xvi) and foster economic security, are necessarily lacking and perhaps a bit Godbout argues misrepresentations and misunderstandings of the gift that privilege its e conomic facets are spawned by the danger that the gift poses to modernity (1998: 4). To imply that giving is either strategic and asocial, or altruistic and anti personal, is to fall into the trap laid in modern ideology which obscures the gift behi nd a discourse of calculation. For Mauss, the gift was a universal pattern which governed ancient societies. However, he was hard pressed to apply it as a model for the modern social orders both in America and on the westernmost Eurasian peninsula (1998: the market and the modern bureaucratic state, machines that destroy traditions and particularity, are above all anti may be tempting to say that the gift today is all but dead. However, that these structures are conceived primarily in relation to the sociality of the gift implies only a modern amnesia, an active forgetting of oremost by its absolute refusal of tradition, it is not surprising that it thinks it can assert its freedom by ridding (1998: 11). For better or for worse, such a movemen t is impossible. It is in communities such as the one where I lived, communities where the hand of
44 power has been lifted, that the primary structure of the gift, goods in service of ties, becomes all too apparent.
45 Power shove it up your ass but skin me no more you cocksucker cops you creep microscopic far below me in your totally meaningless and insignificant fascist soullessness Angus Maclise, Dreamweapon III Without dream or destiny the cops roam the streets of Detroit, looking for trouble. We happened upon six of them one day in early August, climbing out of their S.W.A.T van in earnest. They sported their customary bullet proof vests and fatigues; one was crowned with a helmet, another with a baseball cap. The rest wore simple bucket hats. As my sister fumbled in her purse for a lighter, one of the officers unclipped her weapon: by the sudden apparition of the law in what many would consider to b furniture and shoes, totally unprepared for a confrontation with the state. Now, in the shade of an abandoned brick storefront across the street from Value World, the our friends to finish he the previous night.
46 obviously the ringleader of their enthusiastic posse (he was driving the company car, after all.) Uh, we were shopping at Value World for finish. shrugged.
47 The constables return ed to their vehicle and pulled out slowly onto Gratiot Though these uniforms did not seem all that bright, they had managed to retain at least the sense of entitlement and power reserved by their employment status. Beyond the right to interfere with the everyday lives of Detroiters, the officers felt it was within their job descriptio n to designate neighborhoods as just a misguided protective gesture, but a reiteration of suburbanite spatial politics and racial anxieties. Obviously there is no remaining legal p recedent that would allow such segregation, but the message was delivered with an authority that implied a law beyond the law. Presented as a sort of common sense, the law of the land that these cops were attempting to enforce was the outdated ideo logy of safety through separation. The Detroit Police Department has long been an indicator of racial race riots began when a police officer threw a black infant off of the B elle Isle
48 blacks assaulted the group of police officers charged with keeping the black and Bridge While the versions I heard differ slightly from the ones she addresses a black mother thrown from the bridge vs. a white woman raped and murdered her analysis of the stories is st but racially opposed versions has ever been verified, their narrative structure duplicates the black white opposition contained in other sign systems making up 1983: 185). managed to produce a story of blacks carving a swathe of destruction and looting through the city, a story which would ultimately contribute to the narrative of white flig ht from Detroit. However, according to John Hartigan Jr. in Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit the local version of events differed drastically. rioters, who were black. Whites across the city and the nation, riveted to their TV screens, were emotionally steeped in a sense of racial vulnerability, interpolating themselves as potential victims of a portended all out race war. But white residents who watched the riot unfold on their streets instead of on their televisions recognized friends and neighbors of both races rampaging. Those old enough ee the same (1999: 54) Though similar discrepancies I have noted between lived experience and media
49 there is a story that complicates things. Tom, an ex DPD officer, told me about a shootout during the riots where he was involved. A precinct of white cops had arrested a black man and were allegedly torturing him to get a confession, although for what, Tom was unsure. Once they heard about it, he and a group of other black officers went to where the man was being held and demanded his release. When the white officers refused, things escalated into a fully blown gun today as a set of imagined ley lines along which the discourses of color are still applied. In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault writes on the redistribution of people in segmented and regulated space. His objects of analysis are hospitals, factories, prisons, military barracks and the like the interiors of institutional bodies of power. While the streets of Detroit are not, strictly speaking, interiors, the jurisdiction of police precincts and the lines that they enforce can still be addressed effectively through his analysis. As Foucault says of both disciplinary partitioning more generally. The architecture of the partition can be understood as an effort at anti concentration and increased productivity, the maximum advantages [of regulated compartmental space] and to neutralize For racial boundaries in Detroit, today more implied than enforced, this conception of pr oductivity or its obverse are no longer so concerned with the
50 physical as they are with the ideological. This is not to say that they are not sand, but that they are ultima tely meant to reinforce a highly political image of the city. The designation of neighborhoods as lawless, or as dangerous for whites, sets the stage for a story of modern heroism wherein the agents of development and gentrification in the city can eventua lly become the saviors who bring life back to the wasteland of Detroit. However, the authority that draws these lines of containment only extends so far. The seriousness of its warning, unlike that of a who still live in the city. The man was closer but I saw the cat first, its fur shining stark black against a heap of white drywall. I stopped walking and knelt on the sidewalk, clicking my tongue to the cat. As it crept toward me, he spoke, a rattling v oice watched his mouth to understand what he was saying. I could only see three hollow teeth. He pulled a door from its hinges on the warehouse wall where I home. Before I could begin to consider following him in, he emerged with his arms full of cats, and drew the lines of relation for me: th brother, and this is the sister, and this is the mother and her brother, and then I heard a shout from behind me and the cats jumped from his arms, scattering in all directions. A man who looked even more ancient limped down the middle of
51 cluttered strip of si door. Chuck cracked up and the other man laughed his way down the street slowly. around my neighborhood with a bundle of drumstick s sticking out of the back of his hoodie, stopping to drop rhythms on buckets and buildings and the hoods of great jazzers back in the day, that it was his 55th birthday today, and that I should have seen the trouble the cops gave him the day before for drumming on a railing in front of the courthouse downtown. His posture stiffened and he pointed at a pigeon that was wandering idly along the curb, letting out a loud authority is assumed in order to be laughed away. help the damn woman get out of a parking ticket, but she just wouldn
52 Conclusion Today Detroit is entering a period of transition. Gentrification in the city is on an u pswing as new residents, many of them young whites, are changing the demographics of a city that has for decades been more than 80 percent black. Louis Aguilar is a journalist with Detroit News who has been reporting on gentrification. In an April 23, 2013 article, Aguilar wrote about a new development project in the Cass Corridor neighborhood. Residents of 96 own buyer wants Detroit Red Wings Stadium. Speaking more generally about gentrification in an article published the Further, he notes a sort of gentrification of images where new documentaries are representing these changing demographics as if an attempt at self fulfil ling friend of mine, Oren Goldberg, in conjunction with aforementioned journalist Paul Abowd, made a short documentary inspired by the proposed demolition of the Brewster Douglass projects. is about
53 development, but with a focus on the people that development often overlooks. It is not a hopeful nod to gentrification, but an acknowledgement of its real effects. In the neighborhoods of Midtown, Corktown (where I worked, serving sliders to yuppies and suburbanites) and downtown, Aguila that historically these three areas have remained whiter than other neighborhoods in Detroit. On average, it has been here that a resident makes nearly double the annual pay of residents in other areas (2013). Despite a history of relative opulence, there are changes here that will only exaggerate this disparity as well as box out current tenants; homeowners in these neighborhoods are finding themselves outbid on housing in a newly competitive market. While may not be the beacon that venture capit alists claim will reignite Detroit. They may, in fact, only serve to draw tense boundaries. Even though development is planned to be mainly in these three neighborhoods Corktown, Midtown, and downtown the effects for residents and homeowners extend beyon d their Sociologist Meagan Elliott at the University of Michigan goes further on the topic of citywide effects of gentrification. In her 2011 article in Model D income residents, both ks
54 that gentrification in Detroit takes on a different form than the familiar migration neighb orhood (the Williamsburg and Mission Districts) that is on the cusp of largely white affluence entering into Detroit is even more dramatic. She ends her article on a hopeful Gentrification is not the only major kind of development in Detroit today. With collapsing finances that have begun to deprive Detroiters of city services, the consent agreement between city and state government has been undone. In an announcement from March 14, 2013, Michigan governor Rick Synder appointed prominent bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr to be fill a new position in dec ious firm, Jones Day Law, council was helpless to stop this overt effort at privatization, despite the blatant conflict of interests involved with appointment. But Orr, in a separate interview
55 trustees routinely stay in their law firms, indeed hire the law firms when t hey go changes in this, and coming years. The experiences I shared during my time in Detroit troubled me as I tried to render them in an academic style. To write stories in service of theoretical analysis, or even worse, as evidence in a coherent line of argumentation, seems only to take them out of their element, to deny them the quality which made them so compelling to me in the first place. Over the course of the past two semesters I have never been fully able to put this out of my thoughts. At best I have kept it quiet at the very back of my mind, trying to ignore its various implications. It is with the conclusion to my thesis that I would like to begin addressing this i ssue outright. Experience is the foundation of anthropological inquiry, and without a foot planted solidly in the stuff, any ethnography will fall flat. I invoke Walter encount er people with the ability to tell a tale properly. More and more often there is embarrassment all around when the wish to hear a story is expressed. It is as if something that seemed inalienable to us, the securest among our possessions, were taken from u
56 4), and stock in information and analysis has skyrocketed. The challenge this presented for me was in the b alancing act, trying not to ignore the immediacy of my experiences while also attempting to not to leave it at simple retelling. This gets to the issue of representation more specifically. On this point I TENSION OF CONTENT. (Or so it got phrased by one, R. Creeley, and it makes absolute sense to me, with this possible corollary, that right form, in any given poem, is the only and exclusively possible extension of content under hand (emphasis original, 19 50: 1). The point that Olson makes here is important for all writing that seeks to do more than simple explanatory or descriptive work. Ethnography is necessarily implicated. In terms of my thesis, then, I mean to say that the analytic language of academia felt inappropriate. The style is suitable for pieces Time and the Other (1983), whose object is anthropology as a western academic discipline, but in treating my thesis it would have left the relation between form and content a distant one a t best. hill fort, or the sheep run, anthropology exists in the book, the article, the lecture, the museum display, or sometimes nowadays, the film Without totalizin g him or his work, I would like to highlight the sharpness of his distinction. It is my experience that anthropology exists suspended between the two spheres which Geertz delineates, as an act of both mediation and interpenetration. If the separateness of culture and its study is taken for granted, then it seems all too easy to skirt the imperative which I took at the core of my
57 thesis : t hat writing must mimetically seek entrance into its object, animating what it runs the risk of petrifying and fusing lang uage to its referent In terms of ethnography must stretch its form and logic to fit that of the places and people it what went on t is no small task to devise forms of representation that take their shape from the objects of study, but such a reflexive task can hardly be set beyond the scope of anthropology, and it was my hope to, in some way, achieve this merger. The problem this ra ised for my thesis more concretely: how could I attempt to express a sense folded time and itinerant movement with a linear argumentative form? The solution I sought was fragmentation, a metaphor that my sister and I worked out from the pavement of Detroit sidewalks and the glass/gloss of an American Dream no longer whole. I hoped it might capture the spirit of digression so present in the city, while also falling within the constraints and expectations of a thesis. Fig. 7 the pavement of Detroit sidewalks
58 This split, the dual registers of academic and everyday, closely follows my lines of thought during fieldwork. Caught between the enthusiasm of my experiences and the drive to make something out of them, I found myself continually switching gears So it appears here abruptly, when the line of argument is interrupted by a story which seems to speak for itself or which I am not up to the challenge of picking apart. Sometimes the transitions are intended to be smooth, as is often the case with dial head which read like things and then the thoughts about things. When I first began including images into the con struction of my thesis, I worried that my photographs would look too much like the ruin pornography which I indict for giving the spaces of Detroit a fetish character. After all, I did not have IRB approval to identify my informants faces, so the images very rarely incl ude people. My goal, however, was not to use images of the city as open structures which would give my thesis a romantic or nostalgic aura. I wanted to provide a context for the stories I tell, to have the images frame and compliment my experiences, not to let them speak for themselves, or metonymically, for Detroit. My intent has been for this back and forth to appear, not as an exercise in distraction, but, as it is in the church, as a continuity of practices that includes digression as part of its met hodology.
59 The Virgin Mary stands white and serene in front of a church on the west side, near the city limits. Painted black by rioters in 1967, then white again by the church, then black again, and white and black and back and forth to this day. She was white in June, black by August. Sibil: the prophetess to whom Apollo promised anything she desired in return for her virginity. She accepted, pointed to a hill of sand and asked to live one year for each grain of san d there. But she would not give herself to him, so he twisted her wish, extending her life one year for each grain of sand but dooming
60 her body to decay slowly over the centuries until she was only a prophetic voice. Not civilized Detroit sibilized Detroi t.
61 References Abowd, Paul. 2011 "Who Belongs to Brewster Douglass? | Critical Moment." Critical Moment | Detroit by Detroiters Wordpress.com, 10 Feb. 2011. http://critical moment.org/2011/02/10/who belongs to brewster douglass/ Aguilar, L. 2012. Longtime residents feel they are getting pushed out by newcomers moving to the city. The Detroit News Jan 05, 2012 _______. 2013. Low income tenants kicked out of cass corridor buildings by new owner. The Detroit News April 23, 2013 Angel, Cecil. 2012 ft, and now services disapp ear. Detroit Free Press. May 20, 2012 Benjamin, Walter Illuminations. Arendt, Hannah Ed. New York: Schoken Books Burns, G. 2013. New EM Kevyn O rr call his role i n D etroit the 'oympics of restructuring'. March 14, 2 013 http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2013/03/new_em_kevyn_orr_ calls_his_rol.html Conrad, Tony 2004 http://www.tonyconrad.net/duration Davey, M. 2013. Bankruptcy lawyer is named to manage an ailing Detroit. New York Times March 14, 2013 Dawdy, Shannon Lee 2010. "Clockpunk Anthropology and the Ruins of Modernity." Current Anthropology 51.6: 761 93. December 2010. Dillon, Brian Cabinet Magazine Issue 41 (Spring 2011)
62 Elliott, M. 2011. We need to ask: Is gentrification happening in Detroit? http://www.modeldmedia.com/features/gentrifyfeature1211.aspx December 13. 2011 Fabian, Johannes 1983. Time and the Other: How anthropology makes its object. New Yor k: Columbia University Press Foucault, Michel. 1995 (1975). Discipline and Punish. Random House: New York. Geertz, Clifford. 1973 "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture." The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays New York: Basic. Godbout, Jacques, Alain Caill, and Donald Winkler. 1998. The World of the Gift Montreal: McGill Queen's University Press Hartigan, John. 1999. Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit. Princeton University Press: Pri nceton, NJ Holewa, Lisa 1992 Trial ordered in fatal Detroit beating witnesses said three officers clubbed a motorist with flashlights. A sergeant's felony charge was Philadelphia Inquirer, December 24, 1992 Langlois, Janet. 1983 lle Isle Bridge Incident: Legend Dialectic and The Journal of American Folklore Vol. 96, No. 380 Apr. Jun., 1983 McDonogh, Gary. 1993 and Gary McDono ugh, The Cultural Meaning of Urban Space Bergin and Garvey: London. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1974 (1887) The Gay Science; With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs New York: Random House Olson, Charles. 1950 Projective Verse. 1950; 2011, 2012. Available from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/essay/237880?page=1
63 _____. 1970. The Special View of History Berkeley: oyez Stack, Carol. 1974. All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community New York: Harper & Row Stewart, Kathleen. 2007. Ordinary Affects Durham & London: Duke University Press. Taussig, Michael T. 1980. The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America Chapel Hill: Universit y of North Carolina _____. 1997. The Magic of the State New York: Routledge _____. 2009. What Color Is the Sacred? Chicago: University of Chicago _____. 2011. I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own Chicago: University of Chicago Vaughn, Jerome. 1998 All Things Considered. Detroit. National Public Radio. (March 19, 1998) Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi. 2006. Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press