• The Moral Economy of the Housing Sanitarian Crowd: Crime, Disease, and Urban Renewal in Richmond, Virginia, 1953-1964

      Wells, Jonathan Daniel, 1969-; Thompson, Heather Ann, 1963- (Temple University. Libraries, 2012)
      The following thesis is concerned with the ways in which perceptions of crime and disease shaped knowledge about urban decline and structured demands for urban renewal projects in Richmond, Virginia between 1953 and 1964. By looking at the city's renters, landlords, public health officials, and local politicians, this thesis contains three arguments: first, advocates diagnosed economic decline through medical and criminal categories; secondly, if urban renewal's existential purpose was to correct the environmental determinants of social pathology, then the contest between renewal advocates and opponents defined an economically-delimited solution; lastly, renewal contained the basis for a strengthened post-war, post-Jim Crow Southern state a state whose most important prerogative was not the maintenance of race relations, but the protection of property and capital. This mode, the capitalist-interventionist mode of state formation is an alternative archetype for historians of the post-war South, implicates capitalist impulses as an accomplice in structuring racial domination, and not simply an extension of Southern barbarity and Jim Crow. The first chapter interrogates the ways in which renewal supporters appropriated knowledge about crime and disease to address urban decline, both its supposed causes and possible solutions. The second chapter focuses on how renewal advocates created competing market evaluations of pathology in Richmond's Seventeenth-Street Bottom, as they cleared the supposed slum to build the new city jail. The conclusion poses suggestions for further historical research on the categories of crime and disease and the relevance of Jim Crow.