The Uses of Running: Urban Homelessness, Creative Initiatives, and “Recovery” in the Neoliberal City

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Across North American cities, emerging forms of urban governance from the 1970s produced forms of racialized, visualized, and spatialized urban poverty. Attempts to revitalize, recast, and spectacularize the urban environment left cities with vexing questions about what should be done with homeless people and also what homeless people should be doing. Amidst the rolling back of State social welfare policies and provision (), creative, informal, communal, or non-governmental initiatives have emerged in response to urban poverty and homelessness. One such organization is Back on My Feet, a national, not-for-profit organization that partners with homeless and addiction recovery facilities, which strives to utilize running as a means of empowerment. This ethnographic inquiry speaks to the ways in which the social practice of running amongst those housed in a temporary recovery facility is imbricated with their lifestyles and identities, an urban context, and homeless discourses and stigmas. It is illustrative of how the rhetoric of “recovery” yokes together the entrepreneurial ethos of neoliberalism with the management of homeless people.

Clift (b.c.clift@bath.ac.uk) is with the University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.

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