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Since the 1980s, austerity, gentrification and structural racism have wreaked havoc on inner-city communities, widening inequality and entrenching poverty.
In Terraformed, Joy White offers an insider ethnography of Forest Gate — a neighbourhood in Newham, east London — analysing how these issues affect the black youth of today. Connecting the dots between music, politics and the built environment, it centres the lived experiences of black youth who have had it all: huge student debt, invisible homelessness, custodial sentences, electronic tagging, surveillance, arrest, ASBOs, issues with health and well-being, and of course, loss.
Part ethnography, part memoir, Terraformed contextualises the history of Newham and considers how young black lives are affected by racism, neoliberalism and austerity.
Joy White is an independent researcher and the author of Urban Music and Entrepreneurship: Beats, Rhymes and Young People’s Enterprise, one of the first books to foreground the socio-economic significance of Grime music. She writes on a range of themes including social mobility, urban marginality, mental health/wellbeing, and urban music. Joy has lived in east London for forty years.
“Joy’s deep dive into the history of Newham is strengthened through the level of care given to telling the stories of its people. To read Terraformed is to understand the past and present of Black people in Britain, defined by one borough.”
“Terraformed is the magnificently multi-layered story of how one square urban mile in Newham has been shaped by political cultures which have violently scattered the life chances of its inhabitants. Moving between accounts of brutal everyday racism in the 1970s civil service, through the arrogance of corporate outsourcing, the creative expressions of grime, and the death of her nephew whose trainers are still under her bed, Joy White’s radical contextualisation of the hyper-local makes painfully perfect sense of everyday inequalities.”