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Beautiful WastelandThe Rise of Detroit As America's Postindustrial Frontier$
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Rebecca J. Kinney

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780816697564

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816697564.001.0001

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Picturing Ruin and Possibility

Picturing Ruin and Possibility

The Rise of the Postindustrial Frontier

(p.38) Chapter 2 Picturing Ruin and Possibility
Beautiful Wasteland

Rebecca J. Kinney

University of Minnesota Press

The second chapter examines the story of Detroit’s ruin as a narrative of progress and decline through an examination of the photography of Camilo José Vergara in the late 1980s and 1990s. These images were central in producing a narrative of ruin. In his Detroit images, and in his statements about the city, structural racism and unequal access to the spoils of capitalism are written out of the narrative of postindustrial urban space, replaced with a simpler narrative of progress and decline. Vergara’s images of the landscape in particular suggest that Detroit’s ruin and potential for rise is a natural process, contributing to the common discourse that affirms the rise and fall and rise again of the city.

Keywords:   Detroit, Camilo José Vergara, Narrative, Visual narrative, Photography, Postindustrial urban, Racism, Inequality, Capitalism

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