Path to the Possible

Like many universities, the University of Washington is being systematically defunded by the state and is scrounging for new revenue wherever it can find it.  Of course the main strategy, as elsewhere, is to increase the burden on students and their families by raising tuition and fees.  But there is another piece to that strategy, and it is becoming very apparent in the space of the city.  Over the last few years, all over the University District, the university’s Housing and Food Services division has built new dorms complete with grocery stores, health clubs, restaurants, etc., all of which are intended to function as new-and-improved machines to extract money from students and their families.

I am struck by how useful Lefebvre’s concept of “habitat” is in this context.  He argued that the capitalist city stores its inhabitants in sterile, meaningless spaces, almost like warehouses, in order to keep track of…

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