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A Ban on a Noisy Existence: The Los Angeles Leaf Blower Ban, Spatialized Whiteness and the Gardeners' Struggle for Dignity

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Abstract:

Following the waves of anti-immigrant sentiment that enveloped California in the early 1990s and the concomitant expansion of a Latino based informal economy, in 1997 Los Angeles residents, along with key public officials pressured the city council to issue a legal injunction banning the use of leaf blowers within 500 feet of residential property. In response, Latina/o gardeners mobilized against what they understood to be a racist attempt to further control their livelihood and diminish their informal economic stronghold in the city's landscape industry. In this presentation I will discuss the ways in which the blower ban was constituted by particular investments in whiteness and privatized citizenship. I will interrogate how a variety of discursive and ideological mechanisms make up the leaf blower ban as a moment of white injury in order to blame the imagined or real social problems on the very Latino labor the global city of Los Angeles relies on to sustain its daily functioning. Moreover, I will uncover how jardineros employed culture as a source of autonomous political self-activity in order to bustle power against the impending attacks on their livelihood while articulating a struggle for dignity. I will also interrogate how, as a result of forced migration, lived meanings and practices are de-territorialized from their sites of origin and re-territorialized in the spatial and power contexts of work and a new home weighted with intense racial hostility. More specifically, I will reflect on how jardineros mobilized specific cultural forms to the strategic and tactical ends of launching and sustaining a campaign against the racist excesses of the Los AngelesÂ’ leaf blower ban. This presentation will conclude by suggesting that cultural dignity is not only an antagonistic modality against specific systems of domination but also a protagonistic composition of being always expanding its potentiality beneath the corridors of power. More broadly, this study will be informed by how forms of Latina/o cultural dignity draw upon the accumulated memories of solidarity learned from historical micro-struggles such as the Los Angeles blower ban that eventually erupt into contemporary national mobilizations for justice, human rights and citizenship.
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MLA Citation:

Olmos, Daniel. "A Ban on a Noisy Existence: The Los Angeles Leaf Blower Ban, Spatialized Whiteness and the Gardeners' Struggle for Dignity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The American Studies Association, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA, Oct 11, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p186608_index.html>

APA Citation:

Olmos, D. , 2007-10-11 "A Ban on a Noisy Existence: The Los Angeles Leaf Blower Ban, Spatialized Whiteness and the Gardeners' Struggle for Dignity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The American Studies Association, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p186608_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Following the waves of anti-immigrant sentiment that enveloped California in the early 1990s and the concomitant expansion of a Latino based informal economy, in 1997 Los Angeles residents, along with key public officials pressured the city council to issue a legal injunction banning the use of leaf blowers within 500 feet of residential property. In response, Latina/o gardeners mobilized against what they understood to be a racist attempt to further control their livelihood and diminish their informal economic stronghold in the city's landscape industry. In this presentation I will discuss the ways in which the blower ban was constituted by particular investments in whiteness and privatized citizenship. I will interrogate how a variety of discursive and ideological mechanisms make up the leaf blower ban as a moment of white injury in order to blame the imagined or real social problems on the very Latino labor the global city of Los Angeles relies on to sustain its daily functioning. Moreover, I will uncover how jardineros employed culture as a source of autonomous political self-activity in order to bustle power against the impending attacks on their livelihood while articulating a struggle for dignity. I will also interrogate how, as a result of forced migration, lived meanings and practices are de-territorialized from their sites of origin and re-territorialized in the spatial and power contexts of work and a new home weighted with intense racial hostility. More specifically, I will reflect on how jardineros mobilized specific cultural forms to the strategic and tactical ends of launching and sustaining a campaign against the racist excesses of the Los AngelesÂ’ leaf blower ban. This presentation will conclude by suggesting that cultural dignity is not only an antagonistic modality against specific systems of domination but also a protagonistic composition of being always expanding its potentiality beneath the corridors of power. More broadly, this study will be informed by how forms of Latina/o cultural dignity draw upon the accumulated memories of solidarity learned from historical micro-struggles such as the Los Angeles blower ban that eventually erupt into contemporary national mobilizations for justice, human rights and citizenship.

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Making sense and marking ground: Black and White police officers as spatial entrepreneurs

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Making the Intangible, Tangible: Subjugated Knowledges and Struggles for Dignity


 
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