Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance
Author: Anti-Eviction Mapping Project • Forewords by Ananya Roy & Chris Carlsson
Series: PM Press
Subjects: Cartography / Urban Studies
Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance brings together cartography, essays, illustrations, poetry, and more in order to depict gentrification and resistance struggles from across the San Francisco Bay Area and act as a roadmap to counter-hegemonic knowledge making and activism. Compiled by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, each chapter reflects different frameworks for understanding the Bay Area’s ongoing urban upheaval, including evictions, indigenous geographies, health and environmental racism, state violence, transportation and infrastructure, migration and relocation, and speculative futures. By weaving these themes together, Counterpoints expands normative urban-studies framings of gentrification to consider more complex, regional, historically grounded, and entangled horizons for understanding the present. Understanding the tech boom and its effects means looking beyond San Francisco’s borders to consider the region as a socially, economically, and politically interconnected whole and reckoning with the area’s deep history of displacement, going back to its first moments of settler colonialism. Counterpoints combines the project's work with contributions by community partners, from longtime community members who have fought multiple waves of racial dispossession to elementary school youth envisioning decolonial futures. In this way, Counterpoints is a collaborative, co-created atlas aimed at expanding knowledge on displacement and resistance in the Bay Area with, rather than for or about, those most impacted.
“This collection literally makes visible intersecting lines of structural violence that produce displacement and dispossession, while also tracing creative resistances that are always challenging these processes and building more just futures. As an atlas, Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is transformative and inspiring—it refuses the knowledge making and representational practices that bind cartography to settler colonialism and racial capitalism, instead developing ethical cartographies and collective praxes for mapping otherwise.”
—Sarah Elwood, professor of geography, University of Washington, author of Relational Poverty Politics: Forms, Struggles, Possibilities
“Since the colonization of this land, capitalist, racist, and patriarchal structures have violently silenced and stolen from our communities the ability to map and tell our stories. Even as recently as ten years ago, as organizers in the Bay Area, we spent endless nights debating if we could even use the word “gentrification” as a mobilizing counterforce in our communities. But the landscape is vastly different today. There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a deep housing and affordability crisis. To transform the current system requires us to build a movement led by the communities that are most impacted. And this movement cannot be limited to housing; it must be anti-racist and anti-capitalist, it must be queer, it must be feminist, it must be Black and Latino and Indigenous, and it must be intersectional. Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is a book courageously and defiantly marking this transformation. It is a truth-seeking decolonial resistance to historical traditions and injustices of cartography and power. It is place-making and space-making for all those who have never located themselves in conversations of gentrification, displacement, and neoliberal development.”
—Dawn Phillips, executive director, Right to the City Alliance
“Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is a necessary counterpoint to the cheerleaders for the Age of Tech in the San Francisco Bay Area. The people have suffered mightily as their city has been turned upside down by boomtown madness, bloated by unconscionable wealth, invaded by global capital, and strangled by real estate speculation. The admirable activists at the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project have used their collective geographical imaginations to lay bare the facts of displacement, the resulting social upheavals and the people’s struggles to reclaim their right to the city.”
—Richard Walker, professor emeritus of geography, University of California, Berkeley; author of The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California and Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area
“The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s work is inspiring for activist cartographers and mapping activists in a number of ways: its strategic use of maps to accuse the manifold forms of oppression in neoliberal urbanization; its commitment to local communities and underrepresented spatial subjectivities; and its involvement with multiple (artistic) measures of activist action. This atlas, we believe, has the potential to instigate social justice struggles in cities worldwide.”
—kollektiv orangotango, author of This is Not an Atlas
“Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is a politically urgent and timely account of the historical and present-day forces of dispossession and resistance in the Bay Area. The atlas contains a wide-ranging archive that assembles the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s maps and oral histories, accounts of struggles around eviction, movements for environmental justice, histories of migration, and indigenous geographies produced by scholars, activists, journalists, and residents of the Bay Area. As a counter-cartography that is deeply rooted in community knowledge and struggle, this groundbreaking text makes visible the places and people that Google maps and real estate speculators erase. This book is a must read not just for those living in the Bay Area but for anyone interested in countering the spatial violence induced by racial capitalism.”
—Neda Atanasoski, professor of feminist studies, University of California, Santa Cruz; author of Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures
About the editorial collective behind Counterpoints:
The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP) is a data visualization, critical cartography, and multimedia storytelling collective that documents displacement and resistance struggles on gentrifying landscapes. With chapters in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Los Angeles, the collective works with numerous community partners and housing justice networks in order to provide data, maps, stories, and tools for resisting displacement. AEMP has produced hundreds of maps, oral histories, and multimedia pieces, as well as dozens of community events and reports, and numerous academic and public facing articles, book chapters, and murals. AEMP’s work has been presented in a variety of venues, from art galleries and collectives to neighborhood block parties, from academic colloquia and conferences to community workshops and book fairs.
Erin McElroy and Mary Shi are the co-project wranglers of Counterpoints, with Isa Knafo serving as the principal designer. The editorial and visual design collective behind the atlas includes Maria Elena Acosta, Deland Chan, Finley Coyl, Austin Ehrhardt, Zeph Fishlyn, Terra Graziani, Adrienne R. Hall, Savannah J. Kilner, Isa Knafo, Carla Leshne, Manissa M. Maharawal, Erin McElroy, Marko Muir, Aloka Narayanan, Magie Ramírez, Maureen Rees, Mary Shi, John Stehlin, Andrew Szeto, Aidan Thawley, and Carla Wojczuk. Counterpoints is the collective work of dozens of additional contributors and the love and labor of many other AEMP members.
About the contributors of the Forewords:
Ananya Roy is a professor of urban planning, social welfare, and geography and the Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy at UCLA, where she is the inaugural director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy. Her most recent book is Encountering Poverty: Thinking and Acting in an Unequal World. Ananya leads the National Science Foundation supported global research network, Housing Justice in Unequal Cities, as well as the Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar, Sanctuary Spaces: Reworlding Humanism.
Chris Carlsson is a writer, San Francisco historian, “professor,” bicyclist, tour guide, blogger, photographer, and book and magazine designer. He’s lived in San Francisco since 1978, cofounded Critical Mass in September 1992, has directed Shaping San Francisco since its inception in the mid-1990s, and continues to be codirector of the archive of San Francisco history at FoundSF.org. His books and edited volumes include Nowtopia; Critical Mass; Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco, 1968–78; Reclaiming San Francisco; and, most recently, Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes, and Radical Histories.
See and hear interviews, book reviews, and other news on Anti-Eviction Mapping Project's page coming soon.
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