The United States of America is experimenting with what it means to be a citizen, driven by a cataclysmic change in the physical and social space of the city. As real estate and rental prices have soared in many urban centers, so has the geography of inclusion and exclusion. Among those changes is a major policy shift: Where monumental public housing developments once stood, now lay empty fields, commercial centers, and mixed-income developments.
This rupture is in the service of a vision of a more humane–but more regulated–living, where income-based segregation is directly attacked by public-private partnerships that place the wealthy near the poor. For model public housing residents, an invitation to return is a perquisite of citizenship, although one that comes at a price of limits on everything from houseguests to using common space. For families who are not deemed deserving–or are not lucky enough to be chosen in the vast housing authority lottery systems–a new tide of displacement is pushing them to the city’s edges.
As we spend billions to reformulate the city, we decide: Who deserves? Who belongs? Is citizenship enough?
An assistant professor of sociology at St. Olaf College and principal with Scrappers Film Group, David Schalliol is academically and artistically interested in inequality and place. His writing and photographs have appeared in such publications as Social Science Research, MAS Context, and The New York Times, as well as in numerous exhibitions, including the 2015 and 2017 Chicago Architectural Biennial, the inaugural Belfast Photo Festival, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s Midwest Photographers Project. Schalliol contributed to Highrise: Out My Window, an interactive documentary that won the 2011 International Digital Emmy for Non-Fiction. David is the director, cinematographer, and co-producer of the 2018 documentary film The Area. His book, Isolated Building Studies, was published by Utakatado in 2014. davidschalliol.com | @metroblossom