Secessionist Automobility: Racism, Anti‐Urbanism, and the Politics of Automobility in Atlanta, Georgia


Automobility — the centering of society and everyday life around automobiles and their spaces — is one of the most contentious aspects of contemporary urban growth debates at the local, national, and global scale. The politics of automobility is a spatial struggle over how the city should be organized and for whom. Yet there is little research on how this struggle is unfolding, and how that politics is shaping urban space. Part of this stems from the essentialization of automobility in policy and academic discourses on cities. Moving beyond essentialization, this article will explore how contentious political struggles reveal nuanced and diverse discourses and ideologies surrounding automobility and space. Focusing on what I call ‘secessionist automobility’— using an automobile as an instrument of spatial secession — I examine Atlanta, Georgia’s contentious automobility debate. Secessionist automobility is bound with the blunt politics of race‐based secession from urban space, but also more subtle forms of spatial secession rooted in anti‐urban ideologies. Implications for local, national, and global contestation of automobility will be provided.