Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Degree Type

Capstone Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies (BA)


Cultural Studies

First Advisor

Jaafar Aksikas


This project examines the politics of representation in The Ruins of Detroit, a book of photography by Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre in order to understand Detroit as a privileged site of ruins photography, critically referred to as ruin porn. Examining the book as a representation of Detroit's decay reveals an implicit power dynamic which neglects Detroit's complex history and the lived experience of its residents. Paying particular attention to the dialectic of race and labor under capitalism, this project traces the urban history of Detroit in order to contextualize and reframe the state of ruin presented in the photographs. This project argues that Marchand and Meffre's work appropriates Detroit's state of crisis and decay for aesthetic consumption through a process of exploitation of Detroit ruin as a space, while simultaneously almost erasing Detroit's actual residents from this spatial representation altogether.