What: Yi-Fu Lecture on Civic Colonialism: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Municipal Annexation in Arizona
When: Friday, March 6th, 2020 3:30pm
Where: Science Hall Room 180
University of Wisconsin
Madison WI 53706-1404,
Scholars have overlooked how urban annexation drove the development of the metropolitan Sunbelt in the American Southwest after World War II. A case study on civic life in 20th century Phoenix shows how Anglo elites utilized municipal annexation to maintain colonial relationships with racialized communities in the surrounding agricultural hinterland. Working-class Anglo settlers, along with racial minorities and non-white immigrants, were largely excluded from participation in civic activities as Anglo elites fought to remove these residents to the metropolitan periphery.
Still, civic elites could only extend their political control as far as the city borders, so after Phoenix voters approved major postwar municipal bonds, civic elites annexed surrounding areas so that Charter (the municipal political machine) could dictate development along the metropolitan periphery. While metropolitan Phoenix enticed affluent homeowners with modern amenities and tolerable taxes, city officials engaged in ruthless chicanery to convert, cajole, or coerce consent for annexation petitions from right-wing populists.
In contrast, Charter disenfranchised racialized residents to reduce resistance to annexation in segregated communities. By 1960, just as in dozens of other Sunbelt cities across the nation, municipal annexation allowed civic elites to amalgamate the metropolitan periphery into their municipality. Metropolitan Phoenix, along with the broader American Sunbelt, exists due to municipal annexation. This talk shows how this policy should be understood as a facet within a longer a historical continuum of settler colonialism in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands.