This essay analyzes the ways that the “tourist gaze” and the “development gaze” overlap in the neoliberal gentrification of Detroit. It situates Shinola Detroit's corporate branding as an extension of the tourist gaze, a way for tourist consumers to experience the city through local stores, via virtual factory tours, and, of course, by purchasing luxury goods. Centrally, the essay argues that what Shinola offers for sale is less about a specific product and more about an association with a nostalgic vision of Detroit—a space of “authentic” blackness, working-class credibility, and grittiness—on the rise. These storied narratives of both nostalgic past and “Detroit on the rise” elide the racial logics of capitalism and uneven development that created the twenty-first-century context of neoliberal gentrification in Detroit, reproducing the invisibility of institutional racism in the city's past and present.
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Rebecca J. Kinney; Detroit Is Closer than You Think. Radical History Review 1 October 2017; 2017 (129): 164–176. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-3920739
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