People as infrastructure politics in global north cities: Chicago’s South Side

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People as infrastructure politics, a fruitful new analytic in urban political studies, has mysteriously been minimally studied in global north cities and their most punished places, America’s rust belt environments. I chronicle a flourishing people as infrastructure politics in one American rust belt city setting, Chicago’s neglected South Side. Here hundreds of subalterns participate in this resistance politics to reverse what I focus on: a commodifying blues club. Subalterns extract life-giving stuff from this space as they toil in Chicago’s and the South Side’s low-wage economies and marginalized communities. I show that this group’s political acts and practices, guided by their ordinary space’s interwovenness with taut political alliances and alternative ways to see, prove more sly and proactive than we have recognized. This slyness, first, entails an active use of a “back-path politics” as actions confront less club practices than the discursive content of practices. This slyness, second, leads with what I term resistive fragments: momentary, political charged interventions that powerfully resound across the club. The results suggest that this distinctive resistance politics is alive in America’s rust belt cities, closely mirrors realities in global south cities, and is far more complex that we had previously known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-179
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Chicago
  • People as infrastructure
  • blues clubs
  • resistance politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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