Barbara Brower

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Geography



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 125 pages)




Incidence of youth and gang violence in the Portland, Oregon metro area has increased dramatically over the past five years. This violence has recently become more spatially diffuse, shifting outwards from gentrified, inner city neighborhoods, towards the city's periphery. These incidents exist within the context of a shifting regional political economy, characterized by a process of gentrification associated displacement and growing, and distinctly racialized and spatialized, inequalities. While gang researchers have long argued a corollary between the emergence of gangs and economically and culturally polarized urban landscapes, the ongoing suburbanization of poverty in American cities suggests a new landscape of uneven power differentials playing out between disenfranchised youth and those seeking to police and prevent violence. This paper provides a critical examination of how local agencies charged with addressing youth and gang violence are responding to shifts in the landscape of violence and navigating the inequitable distribution of wealth and resources in the "progressive" city. Drawing on interviews conducted with police, policy makers and gang outreach workers, I investigate both perceptions of gentrification's role in youth and gang violence and the spacialities of emerging enforcement and prevention efforts. My findings suggest that prevention and enforcement efforts frequently rely on techniques and models designed to replicate conditions in older, gentrified neighborhoods, while perhaps unwittingly reifying existing inequalities. Ultimately, I hope to reveal some of the links, both at macro-structural levels and those of daily practice, between a shifting political economy and emerging forms of suburban policing.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Geography.

Persistent Identifier

Included in

Geography Commons