Imagining the settler city: Dabney Jael Meachum, The politics of place on Lingít Aaní: regulating settler space in Juneau, Alaska, MA dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2019


Abstract: This thesis looks at how settler-colonialism materializes through the conjoined city-making projects of image-making, tourism and homelessness regulation in Juneau, Alaska. Using the analytic method of haunting, I examine how these urban processes bring historical tactics of violence and erasure from the past into the present. By bringing literatures on settler-colonialism, place-making, and homelessness in conversation, I examine the urban boosterist imagining of Alaska as the Last Frontier as a practice of colonial violence and discuss how this imaginary produces conditions and practices of harm, particularly ones that target Tlingit people and place. I argue that this imaginary is positioned within a logic of elimination that seeks to undermine Indigenous ways of knowing and being on the land and seeks to further construct structures of settler hegemony in Juneau and elsewhere. The purpose of this project is to understand the relationship between settler-colonialism and the settler imaginary of place-making in Southeast Alaska. By specifically tracing these ideas through processes of unsettling in the city through the regulation of homelessness and the project of tourism, I identify how these explicit materializations of settler-colonialism in Juneau, Alaska are tied up in “imagining”. This project is about how settler space-making through the settler-imaginary is a specific tool of settler-colonialism that continues to produce Juneau and dispossess Tlingit people.

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