This essay introduces three articles by Reggie Oh, Aaron Monty and Julian Webb that share themes related to the idea of decentralization and decentering. This essay obliquely approached the three LatCrit pieces by first evoking James Blish's science fictional vision of "Cities in Flight" - cities enabled by anti-aging and antigravitation technology to depart from the face of the Earth and roam interstellar space, a picture of radical physical decentralization. The essay then moved on to consider three justifications and visions of decentralization from Robert Nozick, Frank Michelman and Iris Young articulating libertarian, deliberative communitarian and arguably, postmodern approaches to understanding cities and decentralization. The essay then argues that Blish's science fictional "cities in flight" may not be as far from the U.S. of the past 50 years as one may think at first - in fact, much of the suburban white flight over the past decades can be explained employing Nozick's libertarian model with its focus on implementing the free choice of autonomous individuals against the background of the night watchman state. Finally, this essay evoked and placed the works of Reggie Oh, Aaron Monty and Julian Webb and their shared theme of the decentralized and decentered state of knowledge and identity in our current time, with the goal of finding a chastened, perhaps existential, progressive empowerment, rather than a bleak and depressed state of demobilization. While the case is close, very close indeed, one may still look with hope for signs that the glass is half full.


Symposium: Eighth Annual LatCrit Conference City & The Citizen: Operations of Power, Strategies of Resistance: Section III: Identity, Discourse & Society: Mapping the Lines of Critical Inquiry: Introduction