- Countermapping Displacement and Resistance in Alameda County with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is a data visualization, data analysis, and digital storytelling collective documenting dispossession and resistance upon gentrifying landscapes. As a collective of housing justice activists, researchers, technologists, artists, filmmakers, and oral historians, we create digital humanities pieces embedded in broader antidisplacement work transpiring in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City. Having produced over one hundred digital interactive web maps, nearly that many oral histories and video pieces, a dozen reports and articles, and several map projections and digitally interactive murals, the project works across disciplines with numerous community partners. Yet all our work arguably fits into the rubric of the digital humanities, using digital tools to investigate human experiences of home, displacement, and resistance. At the heart of our methodological approach is an intersection of digital activism with feminist science and technology studies, critical race studies, critical geography, and American studies. Critical of the technologies with which settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and the heteronormative household have consolidated to inform private property and displacement praxes, our work maintains a decolonial and abolitionist geographic perspective.1
For our submission to this special issue of American Quarterly, we are focusing on ongoing work that we have been conducting in California's Alameda County since 2015, when we launched a project mapping displacement and resistance in three of the county's cities: Oakland, Fremont, and the City of Alameda. We first self-published much of this work in September 2016, as part of a community event that we orchestrated at the East Side Arts Alliance in East Oakland. However, since then, the work has continued to grow, largely living [End Page 601] online in our interactive report, Counterpoints: Data and Stories for Resisting Displacement (arcg.is/10SKLX).
Beginning with the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 and enduring into the present, these three cities have experienced heightened rates of displacement, disproportionately targeting poor and working-class communities of color. While the recession devastated the region, installing new racialized meanings of home and space,2 foreclosure rates have subsided in recent years. Evictions, on the other hand, have not, exacerbated by pressures of Silicon Valley growth and real estate speculation.3 And, like the foreclosure crisis, these forces too are embedded in a matrix of what Cedric Robinson described as racial capitalism.4 While San Francisco has received much attention for the gentrifying effects of technocapital and real estate, the East Bay has often remained either peripheral to, or as comparable with, San Francisco. And yet experiences of East Bay gentrification are not fungible with those in San Francisco,5 thereby calling for a unique cartographic approach.
Until initiating this project, eviction data throughout Alameda County had been largely inaccessible to the public, making our work timely and useful for the many community partners we developed. After cleaning, sorting, and analyzing data retrieved from the Alameda County Court and Oakland Rent Board in 2016, we began creating online interactive digital maps and visualizations, so that the data could be better interpreted, temporally and spatially. Since then, we have continued to merge these data with other data sets, so that we can better understand the demography of displacement, spatiotemporal concentrations of loss, speculators and developers profiting from dispossession, infrastructural relations, as well as more intimate experiences of loss and resistance.
As such, much of our mapping also involves qualitative data, from oral history pieces to video work, from community-based power mapping entries to crowdsourced data conducted by East Oakland youth. We have also created story-based web-maps informed by our own investigations into the loss of single resident occupancy (SRO) and Section 8 housing, as well as the corrosion of public space. This narrative and investigative work prioritizes a life-history approach to storytelling, focusing on deep neighborhood histories of what is no longer, but also stories of refusal and protest. In this way, we hope for the narratives themselves to serve as tools and inspiration for future struggle.6 By geolocating and overlaying stories on county and city eviction data sets, we...