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The Politics and Poetics of Public Space
There are many ways to approach the subject of public space: the threats posed to it by surveillance and visual pollution; the joys it offers of stimulation and excitement, of anonymity and transformation; its importance to urban variety or democratic politics. But public space remains an evanescent and multidimensional concept that too often escapes scrutiny.
The essays in Rites of Way: The Politics and Poetics of Public Space open up multiple dimensions of the concept from architectural, political, philosophical, and technological points of view. There is some historical analysis here, but the contributors are more focused on the future of public space under conditions of growing urbanization and democratic confusion. The added interest offered by non-academic workvisual art, fiction, poetry, and dramais in part an admission that this is a topic too important to be left only to theorists. It also makes an implicit argument for the crucial role that art, not just public art, plays in a thriving public realm.
Throughout this work contributors are guided by the conviction, not pious but steely, that healthy public space is one of the best, living parts of a just society. The paths of desire we follow in public trace and speak our convictions and needs, our interests and foibles. They are the vectors and walkways of the social, the public dimension of life lying at the heart of all politics.
The Demise of a Tokyo Nightclub District and the Reshaping of a Global City
For most of the latter half of the twentieth century, Roppongi was an enormously popular nightclub district that stood out from the other pleasure quarters of Tokyo for its mix of international entertainment and people. It was where Japanese and foreigners went to meet and play. With the crash of Japan’s bubble economy in the 1990s, however, the neighborhood declined, and it now has a reputation as perhaps Tokyo’s most dangerous district—a hotbed of illegal narcotics, prostitution, and other crimes. Its concentration of “bad foreigners,” many from China, Russia and Eastern Europe, West Africa, and Southeast Asia is thought to be the source of the trouble.
Roman Adrian Cybriwsky examines how Roppongi’s nighttime economy is now under siege by both heavy-handed police action and the conservative Japanese “construction state,” an alliance of large private builders and political interests with broad discretion to redevelop Tokyo. The construction state sees an opportunity to turn prime real estate into high-end residential and retail projects that will “clean up” the area and make Tokyo more competitive with Shanghai and other rising business centers in Asia.
Roppongi Crossing is a revealing ethnography of what is arguably the most dynamic district in one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Based on extensive fieldwork, it looks at the interplay between the neighborhood’s nighttime rhythms; its emerging daytime economy of office towers and shopping malls; Japan’s ongoing internationalization and changing ethnic mix; and Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, the massive new construction projects now looming over the old playground.
Seattle, often called the “Emerald City,” did not achieve its green, clean, and sustainable environment easily. This thriving ecotopia is the byproduct of continuing efforts by residents, businesses, and civic leaders alike. In this book, Jeffrey Craig Sanders examines the rise of environmental activism in Seattle amidst the “urban crisis” of the 1960s and its aftermath. Like much activism during this period, the environmental movement began at the grassroots level—in local neighborhoods over local issues. Sanders links the rise of local environmentalism to larger movements for economic, racial, and gender equality and to a counterculture that changed the social and political landscape. He examines emblematic battles that erupted over the planned demolition of Pike Place Market, a local landmark, and environmental organizing in the Central District during the War on Poverty. Sanders also relates the story of Fort Lawton, a decommissioned army base, where Audubon Society members and Native American activists feuded over future land use. The rise and popularity of environmental consciousness among Seattle’s residents came to influence everything from industry to politics, planning, and global environmental movements. Yet, as Sanders reveals, it was in the small, local struggles that urban environmental activism began.
Poverty and Inequality in U.S. Cities
“Economic and political forces no longer combat poverty—they generate poverty!" exclaim William Goldsmith and Edward Blakely in their report on the plight of American's urban poor. In this revised and updated edition of their 1992 book Separate Societies, the authors present a compelling examination of the damaging divisions that isolate poor city minority residents from the middle-class suburban majority. They pay special attention to how the needs of the permanently poor have been unmet through the alternating years of promises and neglect, and propose a progressive turn away from 30 years of conservative policies.
Separate Societies vividly documents how the urban working class has been pushed out of industrial jobs through global economic restructuring, and how the Wall Street meltdown has aggravated underemployment, depleted public services, and sharpened racial and class inequalities.
The authors insist that the current U.S. approach puts Americans out of work and lowers the standard of living for all. As such, Goldsmith and Blakely urge the Obama administration to create better urban policy and foster better metropolitan management to effectively and efficiently promote equality.
Female Tongzhi Communities and Politics in Urban China
This is the first ethnographic study of lala (lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) communities and politics in China, focusing on the city of Shanghai. Based on several years of in-depth interviews, the volume concentrates on lalas’ everyday struggle to reconcile same-sex desire with a dominant rhetoric of family harmony and compulsory marriage, all within a culture denying women active and legitimate sexual agency. Lucetta Y. L. Kam reads discourses on homophobia in China, including the rhetoric of “Chinese tolerance,” and considers the heteronormative demands imposed on tongzhi subjects. She treats “the politics of public correctness” as a newly emerging tongzhi practice developed from the culturally specific, Chinese forms of regulation that inform tongzhi survival strategies and self-identification. Alternating between Kam’s own experiences with queer identity and her extensive ethnographic findings, this text offers a contemporary portrait of female tongzhi communities and politics in urban China, making an invaluable contribution to global discussions and international debates on same-sex intimacies, homophobia, coming-out politics, and sexual governance.
Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy
Next to the nuclear industry, the largest producer of contaminants in the air, land, and water is the electronics industry. Silicon Valley hosts the highest density of Superfund sites anywhere in the nation and leads the country in the number of temporary workers per capita and in workforce gender inequities. Silicon Valley offers a sobering illustration of environmental inequality and other problems that are increasingly linked to the globalization of the world's economies.
In The Silicon Valley of Dreams, the authors take a hard look at the high-tech region of Silicon Valley to examine environmental racism within the context of immigrant patterns, labor markets, and the historical patterns of colonialism. One cannot understand Silicon Valley or the high-tech global economy in general, they contend, without also understanding the role people of color play in the labor force, working in the electronic industry's toxic environments. These toxic work environments produce chemical pollution that, in turn, disrupts the ecosystems of surrounding communities inhabited by people of color and immigrants. The authors trace the origins of this exploitation and provide a new understanding of the present-day struggles for occupational health and safety.
The Silicon Valley of Dreams will be critical reading for students and scholars in ethnic studies, immigration, urban studies, gender studies, social movements, and the environment, as well as activists and policy-makers working to address the needs of workers, communities, and industry.
Drawing on an assessment of eighty small cities between 1970 and 2000, Norman considers the factors that have altered the physical, social, and economic landscapes of such places. These cities are examined in relation to new patterns of immigration, shifts in the global economy, and changing residential preferences. Small Cities USA presents the first large-scale comparison of smaller cities over time in the United States, showing that small cities that have prospered over time have done so because of diverse populations and economies. These "glocal" cities, as Norman calls them, are doing well without necessarily growing into large metropolises.
Harvey analyzes core issues in city planning and policy—employment and housing location, zoning, transport costs, concentrations of poverty—asking in each case about the relationship between social justice and space. How, for example, do built-in assumptions about planning reinforce existing distributions of income? Rather than leading him to liberal, technocratic solutions, Harvey’s line of inquiry pushes him in the direction of a “revolutionary geography,” one that transcends the structural limitations of existing approaches to space. Harvey’s emphasis on rigorous thought and theoretical innovation gives the volume an enduring appeal. This is a book that raises big questions, and for that reason geographers and other social scientists regularly return to it.
Sociologists have too often discounted the role of space in inequality. This book showcases a recent generation of inquiry that attends to poverty, prosperity, and power across a range of territories and their populations within the United States, addressing spatial inequality as a thematically distinct body of work that spans sociological research traditions. The contributors’ various perspectives offer an agenda for future action to bridge sociology’s diverse and often narrowly focused spatial and inequality traditions.
The Making of Havana's Urban Agriculture
Following the dissolution of the Soviet bloc, Cuba found itself struggling to find its place in a new geopolitical context, while dealing with an unprecedented agricultural and food crisis that experts feel foreshadows the future of many countries across the globe. Sowing Change traces the evolution of the officially endorsed urban agriculture movement in the capital city of Havana, considering its political significance for the Cuban government and its import for transnational actors in the field of sustainable development. But the analysis does not stop at official understandings and representations of this movement. Rather, it brings into focus the perspectives of small-scale urban farmers--real men and women who live at the conceptual margins of the Cuban economy and struggle to balance personal needs and dreams with political ideals and government expectations, in a context where those very ideals and expectations continually shift. Sowing Change is a timely reflection on the changing agricultural, urban, and power landscapes of post-Soviet Cuba that, finally, queries common presumptions about this socialist nation and its now famous urban agriculture experience.