Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Cindi Katz

Committee Members

Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Thomas Angotti

Shana Redmond

Pete White

Subject Categories

American Studies | Geography | Law | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


abolition, carceral geography, racism, homelessness, redevelopment, culture


Zooming in on the historical development of Downtown Los Angeles’s (LA) Skid Row, this dissertation traces a continuity of abolitionist alternatives made by homeless and poor Angelinos from the 1960s to our present day. Skid Row is an important entry way into Los Angeles urban politics, particularly with respect to how forms of difference, at the axis of race, gender, class, and ability shape regional relations of property and the built environment. I show how these relations shape Downtown Los Angeles’s geography through carceral practices. These carceral practices, made by social services and policing, shape space by routinely containing and dispossessing poor residents for the interests of urban renewal and redevelopment. These residents are not idle. They push back, unsettling the development and the carceral manifestation of space. In their resistance, residents produce alternative networks of care, community control, and place through poetry, music, political campaigns, and legal strategies. Throughout the dissertation, I advance the concept of contested development: how forms of spatial difference through regional relations of property are challenged or reproduced. In so doing, Contested Development shows how urban politics for the last seven decades reveals the push-and-pull contradictions of development by way of the carceral manifestations of difference and the abolitionist alternatives to overwrite them.