Ceasing Fire and Seizing Time

LA Gang Tours and the White Control of Mobility

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Sarah Sharma University of Toronto sarah.sharma@utoronto.ca

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Armonds R. Towns University of Denver armond.towns@du.edu

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LA Gang Tours went on its inaugural ride through Los Angeles in 2010. Black and Latino former gang members from South Los Angeles lead the bus tours, sharing personal stories of gang life with mostly white tourists. A popular critique of the tour is that it facilitates a tourist gaze. However, we argue that to focus on the tourist gaze misses a more pressing opportunity to examine the production of whiteness. We shift the focus to consider the bus’s movement and the power it exerts in transforming the spatial and temporal dynamics of South Los Angeles. Based on participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and discourse analysis of materials surrounding the tours, we found that the tour lays the figurative foundations for gentrification and reconfirms a white control of mobility in the neighborhood. This white control of mobility extends beyond Los Angeles to impact the lives of people of color throughout the United States.

Contributor Notes

Sarah Sharma is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology and on the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Her work centers on issues related to time, labor, technology, and social difference. She is the author of In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 2014). E-mail: sarah.sharma@utoronto.ca

Armond R. Towns is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Denver. His research interests explore the intersections between black radicalism, media studies, cultural studies, and feminist and queer geographies. E-mail: armond.towns@du.edu

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies