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Memphis and the Paradox of Place

Globalization in the American South

Wanda Rushing

Publication Year: 2009

Using Memphis as a case study, Rushing explores the significance of place in a globalizing age. Challenging the view that globalization renders place generic or insignificant, Rushing argues that cultural and economic distinctiveness persists in part because of global processes, not in spite of them. Rushing weaves her analysis into stories about the history and global impact of blues music, the social and racial complexities of Cotton Carnival, and the global rise of FedEx, headquartered in Memphis. She portrays Memphis as a site of cultural creativity and global industry--a city whose traditions, complex past, and specific character have had an influence on culture worldwide.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: New Directions in Southern Studies


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Title PAge, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I began this project five years ago, intrigued with a city that became my home in 1998. Many have supported me and encouraged me in this venture. I would like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Sociology at the University of Memphis for granting me a professional development assignment ...

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pp. 1-8

This book is about a place called Memphis. Its purpose is twofold. First, it aims to create a global/local context for developing a better understanding of the concept of place in the social sciences. It does so by relating accounts of confrontations and collaborations involving real people in a particular southern place to regional and global processes. ...

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1. Globalization & the South: Memphis and the Paradoxes of Place

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pp. 9-33

Memphis, Tennessee, is a remarkable city located in the southern United States, a region associated with a history of disruptions, traditions, cumulative disadvantages, and dramatic transformations. Memphis, like the region, has its own history of disruptions, traditions, and transformations, as well as paradoxes. ...

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2. Neither Old South nor New South: Memphis and the Paradoxes of Identity

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pp. 34-63

Memphis lies in the far southwest corner of Tennessee on the east bank of the Mississippi River. The city gets its name from the ancient capital of Egypt on the Nile River and has been described as the ‘‘Metropolis of the American Nile.’’1 Egyptian-themed symbols ornament a few prominent public spaces reminding residents of the city’s namesake. ...

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3. Urban Space & Place: Memphis and the Paradoxes of Power

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pp. 64-83

Downtown Memphis, situated on the bluffs of the east bank of the Mississippi River, overlooks the river and a floodplain on the west bank. Because of natural, geographic barriers west of the city, growth, development, expansion, and annexation have followed an eastern course. ...

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4. Cotton Fields, Cargo Planes, & Biotechnology: Memphis and the Paradoxes of Development

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pp. 84-119

Geographic location is one characteristic of place fundamental to understanding the economic structure of Memphis and the city’s role as a major distribution node in the global economy. Memphis plays a prominent role, not only because of the city’s central east-west geographic location in the continental United States and its north-south location ...

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5. Globalization & Popular Culture: Memphis and the Paradoxes of Innovation

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pp. 120-152

No other city in the South ‘‘derives its sustenance and character so completely or from such a large area of farm lands and little towns.’’1 Yet this rural-minded city lacking Old South traditions and aristocratic pretensions, as well as New South achievements, repopulated by members of an ‘‘impoverished and subjugated rural underclass’’ ...

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6. Gender, Race, Ritual, & Social Power: Memphis and the Paradoxes of Tradition

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pp. 153-186

Carnival Memphis, sponsor of an annual festival involving the coronation of a king and queen, presentation of a royal court, a salute to business and industry, and support for local charities, celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary in June 2006. Members of the original Carnival association organized in 1931 during the throes of the Great Depression. ...

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7 Place Matters: Continuity and Discontinuity

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pp. 187-198

Many studies of globalization and cities focus on the ‘‘flattening’’ of the world, the homogenization of culture, and the demise of place distinctiveness. This book, however, analyzes qualities that make ‘‘place’’ distinctive, cumulative, durable, and meaningful. ...


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pp. 199-218


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pp. 219-240


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pp. 241-259

E-ISBN-13: 9781469605548
E-ISBN-10: 1469605546
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807832998
Print-ISBN-10: 0807832995

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: New Directions in Southern Studies
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OCLC Number: 793520610
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Memphis and the Paradox of Place

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Memphis (Tenn.) -- Civilization.
  • Memphis (Tenn.) -- History.
  • Globalization -- Social aspects -- Tennessee -- Memphis.
  • Globalization -- Economic aspects -- Tennessee -- Memphis.
  • Culture and globalization -- Tennessee -- Memphis.
  • Place (Philosophy).
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