chapter  2
14 Pages

“Throughlines”

Social injustice and activism in Los Angeles
WithMarika Cifor, Britt Paris

Protestors’ shouts of “no justice, no peace” ring out over the rows upon rows of cars on the 405, one of Los Angeles’ busiest highways, forcing a standstill on a July night in 2016. This protest by Black Lives Matter is both notable and representative of an emergent social movement strategy. More than half of the 1,400 protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement in nearly 300 U.S. and international cities from August 2015 to November 2015 effectively shut down transportation infrastructure. This contemporary activism practice is a logical tactic rooted in the historical occupations of schools, restaurants, and administrative offices that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. throughout the 1960s and 1970s as an earlier generation of activists rallied against racial segregation. In this chapter, through a digital humanities project, we examine how contemporary highways are historically situated as sites of contestation in which previous generations of racialized communities have paid the high price for Los Angeles’ development into a renowned center of commerce and culture. This chapter uncovers how “Throughlines,” our collaborative digital humanities project, seeks to operationalize the concept of “thick mapping,” as developed by Todd Presner in Hypercities. “Throughlines” exposes new temporal and historical dynamics of urban planning, gentrification, and countervailing advocacy efforts in Los Angeles.