Understanding Urban Processes in Flint, Michigan: Approaching ‘Subaltern Urbanism’ Inductively


Ananya Roy introduces the concept ‘subaltern urbanism’ in her 2011 article ‘Slumdog Cities: Rethinking Subaltern Urbanism’. She challenges researchers to move beyond existing epistemological and methodological limits, and offers four concepts which, taken together, serve as a useful starting point for understanding and representing subaltern urban space. In this article I argue that instead of a deductive approach that begins with an a priori identification of slums as subaltern urban space, an inductive approach of identifying subaltern urban space would expand the concept and show that subaltern urbanism exists in the global North. I present original research to show that Flint, Michigan, can be considered subaltern urban space. In the final section of the article I argue that this inductive approach to subaltern urbanism can foster comparative research across the North‐South divide, and generate the transfer of knowledge from South to North.