Graduate Research Paper
In this article, the author presents a case study of mobile home park residents seeking historic designation in the face of neighborhood demolition. The neighborhood’s ineligibility to become a historic site under current law can help demonstrate larger patterns of inequitable outcomes within historic preservation practice. In particular, the author argues that the application of preservation law—despite being formally neutral regarding issues of racial and socioeconomic equity—reinforces existing racial, economic, and spatial inequities. Drawing on the challenge of legal closure from critical legal studies (CLS), the author argues that law and historicity are mutually constituting, and that subjective notions of historicity are embedded in the law. The article further suggests that the legal structures that govern historic preservation practice are socially constructed, and therefore contestable. Accordingly, the author proposes that we instead consider the designation of historic structures as a process, helping to illuminate the subjective and contextual nature of the construction of historicity. Using historic preservation to achieve more equitable outcomes, this article suggests, will require a more critical look at the formalized race-neutrality embedded in preservation’s legal structures.
University of Washington Tacoma
TCMP 571: Legal Urbanism
"Integrity & Incentives: Seeking Equity in Historic Preservation Law,"
Access*: Interdisciplinary Journal of Student Research and Scholarship: Vol. 1
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.tacoma.uw.edu/access/vol1/iss1/2