Continuing their Perverse Modernities series, Duke University Press last week released Christina Hanhardt's Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence which traces fifty years of lgbt anti-violence activism in New York and San Francisco, "framed in the context of broader debates about poverty, gentrification, policing, and crime. Safe Space details how the mainstream lgbt movement sought to distinguish normative gay identity from the matrix of deviancies associated with racialized poverty." The Times Higher Education (UK) reviewed the book, noting the downside as well as the gains to the community:
"Hanhardt analyses how US crime policies to clamp down on “deviants” and “undesirables” had an impact on specific neighbourhoods, particularly in New York City and San Francisco. Urban development became a prevailing crime-control mechanism in inner-city areas, with spaces rendered “safe” by designated area patrols. Whereas this once meant the state protecting (heterosexual) society from “undesirables” such as gay communities, the gradual shifts towards gentrification led to similar processes creating class and race hierarchies within minority groups.
"'Gay space' developed in response to a growth in both visibility and the threat of violence. Safety strategies included community-based patrols to protect gay citizens. However, their focus slowly shifted from state violence to the same social “undesirables” targeted in wider crime-control policies. New forms of multiple marginalisation along gendered, racial and class lines faced those not included in “gay gentrification.”
Hanhardt teaches at the University of Maryland. Safe Space is her first book.