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Unfinished BusinessMichael Jackson, Detroit, and the Figural Economy of American Deindustrialization$
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Judith Hamera

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199348589

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199348589.001.0001

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Combustible Hopes on the National Stage

Combustible Hopes on the National Stage

Figuring Race, Work, and Home in (“not necessarily”) Detroit

(p.105) Chapter 3 Combustible Hopes on the National Stage
Unfinished Business

Judith Hamera

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues for Detroit as an image and an actual place that spatializes and racializes the affective fallout of deindustrialization using three plays whose 2013 New York runs coincided with both the city’s impending bankruptcy and the United States’ anemic recovery from the Great Recession: Detroit by Lisa D’Amour, Detroit’67 by Dominique Morisseau, and Motown the Musical by Berry Gordy. Each play uses Detroit to explore the interpersonal consequences of opportunities and crises in racialized capitalism. Each offers audiences intimate visions of the Fordist bargain in its seeming heyday, particularly compelling in a period of lackluster economic recovery. In this chapter I introduce the formulations “re-siting” and “re-citing” to analyze the ways elements of Detroit’s incendiary history of interracial confrontations are redeployed to support images of a capitalist work ethic transcending or succumbing to racist violence, and to link the city to a seemingly race-neutral contemporary precarity.

Keywords:   Detroit, re-siting/re-citing, Fordism, race, Motown the Musical, Detroit, Detroit ’67, performance, Detroit bankruptcy, Great Recession

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