American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 6-19-2020


This dissertation examines the relationality of dispossession, racialization, and migration in Detroit, connecting the neoliberal rationality of (re)development to its foundations in Indigenous dispossession and racialized labor. “(Sīˈtĭng) Detroit” understands Detroit as a bordertown, where “the border” is the organizing structure and condition for the operation of settler colonialism in Detroit. From the international boundary to the county line, the border is the on-the-ground, everyday method for controlling space, disciplining populations, and limiting mobility for racialized subjects. To examine possession and belonging in a Black city on an international border, this dissertation introduces a “(sīˈtĭng)” — a methodology for locating (siting), seeing (sighting), and discussing (citing) dispossession as a social process and discourse produced and reproduced in the built environment through news reports, maps, plans, statements, advertisements, murals, graffiti, landscape, and architecture. “(Sīˈtĭng) Detroit” cites the sites and sights of Detroit’s Woodward Avenue to halt the dispossessive logics of renewal and redevelopment. Then, it goes “off-site” to unsettle them.




Detroit, visuality, art, borders, cities, dispossession, racialization, migration, Indigeneity, property

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Irene Vásquez

Second Committee Member

Kirsten P. Buick

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Nez Denetdale

Fourth Committee Member

Nicholas Mirzoeff