Date of Award

June 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Donald Mitchell


displacement, home, homelessness, housing, narrative, United States

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Over the past decade, new oral history archives and self-publishing platforms have led to an explosion in the production of memoirs and oral histories of homelessness. This dissertation frames the growing genre of homeless life narratives as a form of urban theory that has been largely displaced from public memory. Based on close readings of hundreds of memoirs and oral histories of homelessness from cities across the United States, this research highlights the violent geographies of the American dream, in which both political economies of urban housing and heteropatriarchal cultures of domesticity produce racialized and gendered cycles of displacement. Further, it enables a radical reimagining of domestic space as a potential site of collective appropriation and mutual care, in resistance to isolated domestic labor and the pressures of rent. In centering displaced voices and analyzing the connections between economic and intimate politics, this work advances a Marxist-feminist and postcolonial approach to the study of contemporary housing and American life.


Open Access