Nextdoor in Colonialtown

Cover: Amy Wheaton

$26 // 8″x8″ hardcover // 34 color photos
Autofocus Books, Oct. 2022


Ryan Rivas has lived in Orlando’s Colonialtown North neighborhood for over a decade. In Nextdoor in Colonialtown, he pairs photos of the neighborhood with conversations assembled from the area’s posts. The result is at turns absurd and abject, goofy and gothic, paranoid and profound. By displacing his familiar surroundings, Rivas evokes the broader White imaginary underlying colonialism and suburbanization.

photos from the book

praise for the book

“In this brilliant and often humorous image-text assemblage, what emerges is an uncanny echo of specters and calls: for policing, firearms, and hot tub recommendations; to see “we are all humans with the same organs” and to watch out for some suspicious creature doing some kind of harm. Note the fragility, the shadows, the lawn objects, the white fright. In the afterword, Rivas offers a succinct account of suburbia as the continued legacy of white settler colonialism, including federal laws and initiatives which, taken up and taken advantage of at the local level, made it so. In other words, maybe the unsettling fact of Florida is that what happens here, happens across the United States.”

– Teresa Carmody, author of The Reconception of Marie

“There is something to be said about people who lock themselves away in their ‘nice communities,’ desperately trying to separate themselves from ‘worse ones.’ Indeed, there’s been much scholarship on white flight and its cousin, gentrification. Nextdoor in Colonialtown, however, lets those communities speak for themselves. And their words are deafening. Seemingly facile in its mission, this project is smart, bold and successful. You will never quite view your ‘nice’ neighbors the same. So, make sure to ‘get your guns and ammo’ ready!” 

– Dr. Chesya Burke, author of Let’s Play White

“Ryan Rivas is a documentarian, a silent lurker in the evenly mowed grass of Colonialtown, a neighborhood as much haunted by its history as your own. What he chronicles is unnerving, amusing, endearing, repugnant, hilarious, and alarming; a stupid, grinning shadow of Americana, against which anyone would want to lock their doors and windows.”

– Sarah Gerard, author of True Love

“A disturbing and darkly funny aperture into the South, framing Floridian Suburbs as the new frontier and its people as living documents of its Colonial history and segregationist policies. Rivas’ sometimes aloof, often satirical juxtaposition offers fluent commentary on the through-line between the “town watch” of Colonial America and the many “citizen observer” and vigilante organizations across the nation, where so many of us live out the racial drama as members of what Elizabeth Alexander has called ‘the Trayvon generation.’ Reminiscent of depopulated photographs by Bill Owens or Warren Kirk, the images of neighborhoods in Nextdoor appear staged, dewy, carried by buoyant palettes that bely the murky exchanges between neighbors. The text-image interactions deploy more recent conceptual fora harvest strategies like those used by Ara Shirinyan or Rob Fitterman to document the formation of collectives in online environments where, across the globe, hate and misinformation travel as absurd companions hurtling towards deadly assembly. In the suburban theatres of suspicion rendered in Rivas’ haunting, sharp book, actors play out scripts of violent exclusion and virulent protectionism, directed by histories of racism and xenophobia to appear adjacent to each other while standing in opposition, gun or head cocked, in a surveilling intimacy that confuses a clenched fist for an extended hand.”

– Divya Victor, author of Curb and Kith