Dr. Erin McElroy
Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin
Erin McElroy’s research focuses on property, race, technology, housing, and empire, with a particular focus on the imaginative and material dispossession that Silicon Valley imperial formations produce in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Romania. This, along with deep commitments to housing justice, animates their manuscript project, Unbecoming Silicon Valley: Techno Imaginaries and Materialities in Postsocialist Times. This project is based upon ethnographic research of socialist and postsocialist technocultures on both sides of the former Iron Curtain, as well as participation in anti-gentrification organizing and speculative future making projects. By situating the imperial aspirations caught up in processes of becoming Siliconized, Unbecoming Silicon Valley homes in on the ongoing work of refusing and thus unbecoming Silicon Valley. Articles based upon this project have appeared in Catalyst, Urban Studies, Imaginations, Urban Geography, Social Identities, Reframing Critical, Literary, and Cultural Theories, Obieg, and Notes from Below. This project emerged from Erin’s doctoral research in in the Feminist Studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, having received funding from the Fulbright, the Social Science Research Council, and more.
At the same time, Erin’s work has been informed through their engagement with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP)—a counter-cartography and digital media collective that Erin cofounded in 2013 to produce maps, tools, reports, zines, murals, videos, oral histories, and public scholarship for housing justice. Erin recently co-edited the AEMP’s first atlas, Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance, now available with PM Press. Erin has also coauthored articles on AEMP in venues such as Antipode, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, American Quarterly, Anthropology News, Radical History Review, Logic Magazine, Media-N, Shelterforce, Housing Displacement: Conceptual and Methodological Issues, and more. Work with the AEMP, coupled with transnational commitments to housing justice, have informed Erin’s cofounding of the Radical Housing Journal, an open access, transnational, peer-reviewed journal, which brings together housing organizers and scholars globally. Such commitments also speak to Erin’s involvement as a core partner in the Unequal Cities network housed at the Institute for Inequality and Democracy out of UCLA and as a steering committee member of the Beyond Inhabitation Lab at the Polytechnic and University of Turin.
Erin’s newest project, which began during their time as a postdoctoral researcher at New York University’s AI Now Institute, involves studying “landlord tech,” or the property technologies that automate processes of eviction, gentrification, and carcerality. Recently Erin co-launched Landlord Tech Watch, which maps how and where landlord tech is deployed while also providing resources for resistance. Scholarship emergent from this project has appeared in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Shelterforce, Metropolitics, Foundry, the Boston Review, and Public Books. Support for this work has come from the Coalition on Economic Security’s Anti-Monopoly Fund, the UC Humanities Research Institute, the Social Science Research Council, the Calyx Institute, and the British Academy. Erin is looking forward to continuing this work in the AMS department, where they are teaching courses on US empire, technology, racial dispossession, and housing justice.