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Flooding and Urban Ecology in Los Angeles
Although better known for its sunny skies, Los Angeles suffers devastating flooding. This book explores a fascinating and little-known chapter in the city's history—the spectacular failures to control floods that occurred throughout the twentieth century. Despite the city's 114 debris dams, 5 flood control basins, and nearly 500 miles of paved river channels, Southern Californians have discovered that technologically engineered solutions to flooding are just as disaster-prone as natural waterways. Jared Orsi's lively history unravels the strange and often hazardous ways that engineering, politics, and nature have come together in Los Angeles to determine the flow of water. He advances a new paradigm—the urban ecosystem—for understanding the city's complex and unpredictable waterways and other issues that are sure to play a large role in future planning.
As he traces the flow of water from sky to sea, Orsi brings together many disparate and intriguing pieces of the story, including local and national politics, the little-known San Gabriel Dam fiasco, the phenomenal growth of Los Angeles, and, finally, the influence of environmentalism. Orsi provocatively widens his vision toward other cities for which Los Angeles may offer a lesson—both of things gone wrong and a glimpse of how they might be improved.
Peace and Justice Activism in Los Angeles, 1963–1978
Health Rights Are Civil Rights tells the story of the important place of health in struggles for social change in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Jenna M. Loyd describes how Black freedom, antiwar, welfare rights, and women’s movement activists formed alliances to battle oppressive health systems and structural violence, working to establish the principle that health is a right. For a time—with President Nixon, big business, and organized labor in agreement on national health insurance—even universal health care seemed a real possibility.
Health Rights Are Civil Rights documents what many Los Angeles activists recognized: that militarization was in part responsible for the inequalities in American cities. This challenging new reading of suburban white flight explores how racial conflicts transpired across a Southland landscape shaped by defense spending. While the war in Vietnam constrained social spending, the New Right gained strength by seizing on the racialized and gendered politics of urban crisis to resist urban reinvestment and social programs. Recapturing a little-known current of the era’s activism, Loyd uses an intersectional approach to show why this diverse group of activists believed that democratic health care and ending war making were essential to create cities of freedom, peace, and social justice—a vision that goes unanswered still today.
Architecture, Urban Research, and the Production of Theory
The Uncanniness of Late Modernity
In the aftermath of September 11, donations to the poor and homeless have declined while ordinances against begging and sleeping in public have increased. The increased security of public spaces has been matched by a quest for increased security and surveillance of immigrants. In this groundbreaking study, Kathleen R. Arnold explores homelessness in terms of the globalization of the economy, national identity, and citizenship. She argues that domestic homelessness and conditions of statelessness, such as refugees, exiles, and poor immigrants, are defined and addressed in similar ways by the political sphere, in such a manner that each of these groups are subjected to policies that perpetuate their exclusion. Drawing on such authors as Freud, Marx, Foucault, Derrida, Lévinas, and Agamben, Arnold argues for a radical politics of homelessness based on extending hospitality and the toleration of difference.
Crime and Punishment in Belfast
A distinctive feature of the conflict in Northern Ireland over the past forty years has been the way Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries have policed their own communities. This has mainly involved the violent punishment of petty criminals involved in joyriding and other types of antisocial behavior. Between 1973 and 2007, more than 5,000 nonmilitary shootings and assaults were attributed to paramilitaries punishing their own people. But despite the risk of severe punishment, young petty offenders--known locally as "hoods"--continue to offend, creating a puzzle for the rational theory of criminal deterrence. Why do hoods behave in ways that invite violent punishment?
In The Hoods, Heather Hamill explains why this informal system of policing and punishment developed and endured and why such harsh punishments as beatings, "kneecappings," and exile have not stopped hoods from offending. Drawing on a variety of sources, including interviews with perpetrators and victims of this violence, the book argues that the hoods' risky offending may amount to a game in which hoods gain prestige by displaying hard-to-fake signals of toughness to each other. Violent physical punishment feeds into this signaling game, increasing the hoods' status by proving that they have committed serious offenses and can "manfully" take punishment yet remained undeterred. A rare combination of frontline research and pioneering ideas, The Hoods has important implications for our fundamental understanding of crime and punishment.
Tales of an Undercover Drug Agent
The mean streets of Boston in the 1970s played host to a nefarious underworld of pimps, pushers, and addicts, and Paul "Sully" Doyle was there. From Kenmore Square hippies to South Boston junkies to Combat Zone prostitutes, this undercover operative with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration met every type of unsavory character in town in his fight to bust violent rings of dope, coke, and smack dealers during a turbulent era in the city's history.
Now Special Agent Doyle bluntly chronicles the riveting, true stories from his years on the inside. Known on the street by his alias, "Paulie Sullivan," he recalls his rookie days, trying to infiltrate the criminal drug world under the tutelage of his veteran partner, through his coming of age as an experienced narc-sharing his keen observations on ruined lives, personal peril, and government red tape along the way. A former prizefighter not at all shy about punching his way out of trouble, the author divulges a candid, worm's-eye-view of the drug war with all its blemishes and glories. With abiding humanity and graphic detail, the memoir richly describes exploits with junkie stool pigeons and hooker informants, college burnouts and Chinatown mobsters, ghetto pimps and violent thugs, bureaucratic obstacles and uncooperative foreign governments, successful busts and brushes with death. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, LSD-no illegal substance failed to tempt those seeking the ultimate high, resulting in the long nights, sudden danger, and uncertain outcomes that faced Sully and his partners.
Combining gripping action with perceptive commentary, this unvarnished snapshot of one agent's experiences undercover adeptly captures the violence, futility, and endless frustration of the war on drugs. As engrossing as a fiction thriller, Hot Shots and Heavy Hits provides a rare glimpse into a harsh world unknown to most of us.
Four Centuries of Urban Change in Western North America
From the Gulf of Alaska to the Mississippi River and from the binational metropolis of San Diego-Tijuana to the Prairie Province capitals of Canada, Carl Abbott explores the complex urban history of western Canada and the United States.
The Welfare State, the "Underclass," and Urban Schools as History
"There are places where history feels irrelevant, and America's inner cities are among them," acknowledges Michael Katz, in expressing the tensions between activism and scholarship. But this major historian of urban poverty realizes that the pain in these cities has its origins in the American past. To understand contemporary poverty, he looks particularly at an old attitude: because many nineteenth-century reformers traced extreme poverty to drink, laziness, and other forms of bad behavior, they tried to use public policy and philanthropy to improve the character of poor people, rather than to attack the structural causes of their misery. Showing how this misdiagnosis has afflicted today's welfare and educational systems, Katz draws on his own experiences to introduce each of four topics--the welfare state, the "underclass" debate, urban school reform, and the strategies of survival used by the urban poor. Uniquely informed by his personal involvement, each chapter also illustrates the interpretive power of history by focusing on a strand of social policy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: social welfare from the poorhouse era through the New Deal, ideas about urban poverty from the undeserving poor to the "underclass," and the emergence of public education through the radical school reform movement now at work in Chicago.
Why have American governments proved unable to redesign a welfare system that will satisfy anyone? Why has public policy proved unable to eradicate poverty and prevent the deterioration of major cities? What strategies have helped poor people survive the poverty endemic to urban history? How did urban schools become unresponsive bureaucracies that fail to educate most of their students? Are there fresh, constructive ways to think about welfare, poverty, and public education? Throughout the book Katz shows how interpretations of the past, grounded in analytic history, can free us of comforting myths and help us to reframe discussions of these great public issues.