Participation Without Power: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Community Meetings in North Denver


  • Sabrina C. Sideris



Universities help shape cities. Historical forms of racial domination repeat themselves, reproducing spatial subordination. In Denver, residences and businesses owned by families of color will be cleared as Colorado State University (CSU), two museums, and the mayor’s office redevelop the area to build an educational hub. An examination of Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting transcripts shows that relationships between the higher education institution and the city are changing in racialized ways, as normative institutions overpower low-income communities of color. Reading discursive events from CAC meetings through a theoretical lens reveals the CSU expansion to be an instance of a predominantly white institution working with city leaders to remove people from land so it can be used to better fulfill economic ambitions, exemplifying theories about the spatialization of race and the racialization of space (Lipsitz, 2006, 2007, 2011). This occurrence has implications for higher education researchers and municipal leaders beyond Denver.