Accounting for Unpayable Debt
State plans to privatize de facto public land were shaped by the Great Recession. Throughout the early 2010s, Detroit was mired in debates over debt and indebtedness. This chapter explores the machinations of structural adjustment and the multiple meanings of debt that prevailed. It analyzes how state auditors worked to justify external oversight and reorganization of the city’s finances. It also looks at how state efforts to impose emergency management coincided with the launch of the Detroit Metropolitan Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was charged with investigating race-based inequities in the region. On the face of it, they were distinct processes—one focused on reconciling fiscal debt and the other moral. Yet their proximity in time and space and the tensions and indignation that surrounded both suggest the importance of thinking about the politics of accounting and collective memory work in the twenty-first-century city.