The Nuisance of Slums
Chapter 4 considers how nuisance talk travels into the judicial process, codifying the aesthetic sensibilities discussed in the previous two chapters into a distinctly propertied form of citizenship. Through an analysis of court documents in slum-related cases from the past thirty years, it shows how a reinterpretation of public nuisance granted the world-class aesthetic a statutory footing. Specifically, by tying a settlement’s legal standing to its visual appearance, the judiciary ordered the massive demolition of slums based on their affront to world-class aesthetic codes. Through detailed observations of court proceedings and the practical means by which judges see and classify distant territories, the chapter reveals how “nuisance” moves from a lay term used to identify sensory disgust to a statutory device for ordering space—one that led to a tenfold increase in the pace of slum demolitions at the turn of the millennium.
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