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Struggles over the future of Detroit were indelibly shaped by pervasive mythmaking that manifested in cultural events like parades, photographic representation, ruin tourism, and general discourse. If anti-Black dystopian images of the city as an urban jungle and place to fear dominated the media in the second half of the twentieth century, by the twenty-first, Detroit was more commonly conjured as an urban wilderness and new American frontier. This chapter tells the story of the revival of the legend of nain rouge—an impish red dwarf that haunts Detroit—to explore the integral role of terra nullius in the territorialization of whiteness and efforts by residents to counter vacancy discourses by illuminating the importance of geography and geographical imaginaries to social justice struggles.

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