Geographies of Art and Urban Change: Contesting Gentrification Through Aesthetic Encounters in San Francisco's Mission District
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While the geographic literature has explored the role of artists as either harbingers or victims of gentrifying processes, this thesis examines the ways in which a particular group of artists contests gentrification. This challenges prevalent narratives in the literature. The Mission Arts & Performance Project (MAPP) is a grassroots, multi-venue neighborhood event featuring art and performance in San Francisco's Mission District. Occurring every other month with no external funding, no formalized organizing committee, and no official leader, it is currently in its tenth year. One of its stated goals is to facilitate community interaction across cultural divides. The purpose of this study was to explore how the individuals and groups involved with the MAPP work to contest gentrification and empower themselves and their multivalent communities through discursive and material practices. Broadly, I aim to interrogate the conditions under which such gatherings take place, the effects, and the implications for understanding how collaborative creative practice can contest gentrification and affect urban change.