Molly Cunningham @ US Locations

“Character Witnesses for the New Detroit: The Confident Restructurer and the Re-Education of the White Market”

Molly Cunningham | Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences

Discussant: Kaya Williams | Post-Doctoral College Fellow, Harvard University

Friday, April 9th, 12:00-1:20pm

 for zoom information and paper email

Paper Abstract: This paper illustrates logics of financial crisis through ethnographic engagement with one of the architects of the takeover of the City of Detroit by a state-appointed emergency manager and subsequent execution of a municipal bankruptcy that stripped retired city workers of healthcare benefits and reduced their pensions while settling predatory loans made to the City during the subprime bubble. In other words, it examines the process that both rewrote and rebranded the city’s story to credit markets to which it must turn to fund vital infrastructures when neither state nor federal government would suffer the political fallout of a bailout of the majority-Black city’s financial crisis. This crisis reflects not only structural disinvestment that has been politically contested in the region over decades (and highly sensationalized in the last) but also the precipitous fallout of the subprime crash (that would go quiet on the record without activist intervention). This particular episode in the court hearings (or, trial, as translated to the public by the media) stars a “world class” expert in the restructuring of distressed entities such as the city. Spoiler alert: confidence is key!

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