Abstracts

Sharon Zukin
Broeklundian Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College and City University Graduate Center

“Destination Culture: How Globalization Makes All Cities Look the Same”

Debates about the effects of globalization during the past few years often focus on the question of whether the rapid migrations of people, images, and capital have reduced differences between national cultures or just given them a wider terrain and more means of expression.  Skeptics argue that this is an age-old question that can never be resolved.  In every era, trade routes and travelers have carried new ideas and materials across great distances, permitting indigenous groups to create fusions that gradually become new historical traditions.  From this point of view, current global trends are neither stranger nor more innovative than native weavers who integrate imported dyes into traditional rug patterns or native musicians who learn to play traditional instruments in a foreign rhythm.  What is new in our age, though, is the erosion of material production as the major source of nations’ and cities’ authentic cultural identity and the rise of the idea that cultural creativity can renew their distinction.  When the same idea is applied in many cities of the world, though, the result is an all too visible homogenization.  This presentation examines the application of ideas about authenticity and creativity to media and entertainment districts, modern art museums, and cultural “hubs,” suggesting that cities’ pursuit of cultural difference in these forms results in standardization.

Diane Davis
Associate Dean, School of Architecture and Planning and Head of the International Development Group, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT

“Insecure and Secure Cities: Towards a Reclassification of World Cities in a Global Era”

Contrary to previous city typologies, which were based on national economic prosperity and degrees of industrialization, this paper argues that a crucial distinguishing feature of certain global cities is the degree to which insecurity dominates the everyday lifeworld of the city. With evidence drawn from Latin America, the paper suggests that even though globalization produces common patterns of economic investment and physical change in the built environment of major cities in rich and poor countries alike, including those that pursued different paths of industrialization, it also generates significant differences within and between cities that can serve to distinguish them from each other. In particular, in certain world cities globalization produces conflict over land use, urban development, economic livelihood, and global commodity trade that enmesh cities and their citizens in a world of insecurity and violence. The root cause of these problems are spatial, political, and economic developments of the past that led to the persistence of informality and limited industrial employment. In an era of globalization cities that carry forward these historical legacies face accelerated social and spatial changes produced by new investments in upper-end real estate, the acceleration of social and income inequality, the popularity of "gating," and recent technological innovations in surveillance and private security that fragment the urban landscape. These processes create intra-urban social tensions and spatial dichotomies all contributing to a declining security situation even in those global cities whose built environmental form suggests a more universal global city status.

 

PAPER ABSTRACTS

Alicia Schmidt Camacho
Assistant Professor of American Studies, Yale University

“Deportation and State Terror in the Latin American Migrant Circuit: Views from Tapachula and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico”

The arrest and detention of unauthorized immigrants is currently the leading form of incarceration in the United States: according to journalist Margaret Talbot, this prison population grew at a rate of 79 percent in 2006, and continues to climb precipitously in number. At the same time, punitive immigration policies within Latin American countries of transit, most notably Mexico, have also led to an expansion of state and private security systems designed for the seizure and detention of the undocumented.  Reports of widespread abuse, including rape and assault demonstrate the corrosive effect of anti-immigrant policies on the democratic institutions of the U.S. and its Latin American partners. Governments in this region routinely use home invasions, raids, and deportation as an instrument of political repression – to suppress immigrant organizing and control targeted populations.  The growth of private security industries within this context permits gross human rights violations to occur with impunity.

Keisha-Khan Perry
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Brown University

“From the “Margins of the Margins”: Black Women’s Struggles for Land Rights in Brazilian Cities”

This paper is an excerpt of a chapter from my book manuscript entitled, Politics Below the Asphalt: Black Women and the Search for Racial Justice in Brazilian Cities (in preparation).  I am writing Politics Below the Asphalt with the assumption that spatial exclusion is at the core of gendered racial stratification in Brazilian cities.  This has led to community-based movements led by black women against spatially-determined racial hegemony.  I focus on the political movement of the Gamboa de Baixo coastal neighborhood against urban removal and for land rights during recent processes of urban revitalization.  “Below the asphalt” expresses the geographic location of the neighborhood underneath the Contorno Avenue along the Bay of All Saints in the city-center of Salvador.  I assert that Gamboa de Baixo is both visible and invisible, in “plain view” and “out of view,” a critical socio-spatial relationship that troubles the naturalized categories of the “periphery” and the “center.”  These sociospatial categories have political meanings for the black women activists who lead the social movement there.  From this perspective, we can begin to understand why black women are the invisible landowners and the oftentimes overlooked defenders of black, women, and poor people’s rights to the city in Bahia, in Brazil, and throughout the African diaspora.

Beth Notar
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Trinity College

“Off Limits: Taxi Driver Perceptions of Dangerous People and Places in Kunming, China”

In the context of the reshaping of urban space, the restructuring of the economy, and a new influx of rural-to-urban migrants, this paper examines the views of men and women taxi cab drivers in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming towards what they consider to be dangerous people and places – people they will not let ride in their cabs and places where they will not drive. While the taxi cab drivers are those who were initially marginalized in the reform era -- mostly laid-off factory workers or displaced farmers -- the drivers now view as dangerous those people who are even more marginalized – the unemployed, the landless, the poverty-stricken, and certain minority groups who are considered too poor or too troublesome. The cab drivers label as dangerous those places that are liminal ones, where marginalized people enter the city (train and bus stations), where new forms of consumption occur (Walmart), or at the city limits, at the boundaries between urban and rural space. This paper suggests that in the new material and social landscape of the city, marked by new forms of physical mobility and social distinction, the taxi cab drivers seek to distance themselves both from what they might have been and what they cannot be.

Nancy Naples
Professor of Sociology, University of Connecticut

“Women's Community-Based Activism in the Context of Global Economic and Political Change”

Much of the literature on globalization concentrates on the broader economic, social, and political dimensions of contemporary global changes and neglects the ways in which these changes reshape the everyday lives of women in different parts of the world, except to highlight the increased participation of women in the labor force and the feminization of poverty among other dimensions of women's economic oppression.  Community-based social change efforts seem all too limited when placed up against the structures of inequality that shape the wider political and economic environment. Analysis of women's community activism in the context of globalization makes salient the contradictions of transnational feminist organizing for locality-based women's movements and feminist organizing more broadly.  Many of the lessons we have learned through more nationally bound feminist politics will continue to serve us as we expand the horizons of feminist organizing.  These lessons include how to negotiate the dilemmas of organizing across class, race-ethnicity, sexualities, space, and religious and political perspectives; how to sustain feminist activist engagement over time; how to build and mobilize effective coalitions; how to create democratic structures at all levels of organization; and how to negotiate the contradictions of funding, representation, and social movement framing--some of which I will illustrate in my presentation.

Scott Tang
Assistant Professor of American Studies, Trinity College

“Shaping Politics in Chinatown: The Intersection of Global Politics and Community Politics in Wartime and Cold War San Francisco”

Rethinking cities and communities in the context of globalization and transnationalism necessitates a similar rethinking of urban and community politics.  Since I am an historian, I am particularly interested in how the transnational paradigm enhances our understanding of earlier minority communities in urban areas.  As they use transnationalism to revise older ideas concerning immigration and identity formation, historians reveal additional dimensions within minority politics, especially as they relate to diasporic communities.  Drawn from my research on race relations and racial politics in San Francisco, my paper contributes to these discussions in the diaspora politics literature.  It examines politics in the city’s Chinese American community during in the middle of the twentieth century to show how the world beyond our national borders influenced minority politics on the community level.  One theme is how the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War played a significant role in Chinatown political activities

Richard Wright
Orvil Dryfoos Professor of Geography and Public Affairs, Dartmouth College (participant and presenter)
Steven Holloway
Associate Professor of Geography, University of Georgia
Mark Ellis
Professor of Geography, University of Washington

“Do Mixed-Race Households Live in Diverse Neighborhoods?”

Cities are becoming increasingly diverse while paradoxically remain deeply divided along racial lines. Residential segregation recedes in some places and between some groups and surges in other contexts.  This study mobilizes the mixed-race household to better understand these evolving residential location patterns.  Specifically, this research becomes interested in configurations of diversity associated with different characterizations of neighborhoods and different types of mixed-race households. Because we know little about where mixed-race households "fit" in these restive racialized terrains, this paper maps households and neighborhoods in several large US metropolitan areas to "see," and thus re-think, the relationships between mixed-race households' residential locations and surrounding indicators of racialized urban spaces.  In addition, we model the residential patterns of households headed by white-black, white-Latino, white-Asian, and black-Latino partners using several measures of neighborhood racial diversity. The results reveal that, first and foremost, households headed by white-black partners are more drawn to neighborhood diversity, no matter how we measure it, than households headed by other mixed-race couples.  Amongst single-race households, neighborhood diversity seems to appeal the most to black and Asian households and least for white households. Pratt (1998: 27) argues that “borders in space and place are tied up with social boundaries … but that there are multiple grids of difference and complex and varied links between place and identity formation”.  Our findings trouble understandings of space scripted as monoracial and social processes theorized based on unidimensional racial hierarchies.

Thomas Harrington
Associate Professor of Languages and Culture, Trinity College

“What Are You Doing Here? Studying Urban and Transnational Phenomena from “within” Hispanic Studies”

In the United States, departments of “Spanish” have generally been viewed as places concerned primarily with the acquisition of language.  However, this perception not only flies in the face of lived reality, but also the rich historical archive of the discipline. In my analysis, I will demonstrate that Hispanism’s roots in the fundamentally interdisciplinary field of philology make it a very natural site for the analysis of complex urban and transnational phenomena and this, despite the numerous institutional barriers (many of them erected by Hispanists and their disciplinary descendents themselves!) that have arisen in the modern academy over the past century.

Zayde Antrim
Assistant Professor of History and International Studies, Trinity College

“Connectivity and Creativity: Baghdad in the Discourse of Place, 9th-11th Centuries”

This paper interprets images of Baghdad's physical, political, and cultural centrality in geographical works from the ninth to the eleventh centuries as celebrations of connectivity. The city's centrality allowed spatial and temporal links to be forged from region to region and from Muslim in the Islamic world. This connectivity in turn functioned similarly to an isnād in Ḥadīth studies, anthenticating and legitimating the acts of creation associated with Baghdad, such as ʿAbbāsid Revolution and the founding of a new capital city.  Thus, written representations of Baghdad were useful and compelling to Muslims in this period because they evoked a sense of connectivity to the Islamic Umma past and present, a sense of connectivity that legitimized creativity and authority in the Islamic world more broadly.

Andrew Walsh
Associate Director, Leonard E. Greenberg Center For the Study of Religion in Public Life, Trinity College

“At Home: St. Patrick’s Day Parades and the Assertion of Irish Catholic Presence in Mid-Nineteenth Century Hartford”

Like much of interior New England, from the 1630s to the 1830s Hartford was an isolated community populated almost entirely by descendents of a wave of English Puritan immigrants who had arrived in the Great Migration of the 1630s. This strong and parochial local subculture was drastically and rather suddenly diluted by immigration stimulated by the industrialization of the region. By 1860, one third of the city’s population was composed of immigrants and their children, 73 percent of whom were Irish Catholics. Tensions over a large range of cultural, religious, and economic issues characterized relations between settled Yankees and Irish immigrants in the 1850s.  Nativism was strong in the region, but so was a pattern of aggressive Irish self-assertion in the streets of the city and in the location of new Catholic churches in largely Protestant neighborhoods. Beginning in 1852, a series of Irish parades on St. Patrick’s Day forcefully asserted the presence of Irish people and of Catholic faith in a Yankee stronghold. Despite Yankee criticism and resistance, the parades grew with the Irish population. In the 1850s, the route focused on immigrant streets on the city’s East Side, with a foray into Yankee territory in mid-parade for Mass at the newly constructed St. Patrick’s Church on Church Street. The character of the parade shifted dramatically during the Civil War years, when nervous Yankee city officials invited the marchers to use the State Capitol as the site for a celebratory luncheon at the conclusion of the march. The parade route expanded during the 1860s to encompass the entire downtown and many Protestant neighborhoods—from a two hour to a six hour event. Coverage of the parade in the city’s newspapers illustrates both the resolute Irish assertion of civic presence and the Yankee retreat from confrontation with the Irish.

Amitava Kumar
Professor of English, Vassar College

“The City Under Surveillance”

A growing body of contemporary art in America comments on post-September 11 conditions, specifically the changed realities in the nation’s political and social psyche. Artists like Paul Chan, Coco Fusco, Jill Magid, Paul Shambroom and several others have responded both by calibrating the vast reduction of individual freedoms in relation to the growth in ideologies of control, and, equally important, by charting new geographies of affect and intimacy, finding new languages to express protest and also love. These artists have chosen to work on, to borrow Dick Cheney’s phrase, “the dark side” and they have borrowed techniques used by the covert agencies in the war on terror.

Luis Figueroa
Associate Professor of History, Trinity College

"Barriadas" and Suburbs: Modernity and Haussmannization in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1936-1968"

Puerto Rico's transition from a largely agricultural and poor colony to a shining example of early Third World modernization after World War II has been analyzed almost exclusively by focusing on its industrialization-by-invitation program. In this paper, and the larger project from which it stems, I argue that equally important was the process of suburbanization and the radical transformation of the built environment, which has had a far more lasting impact than the labor-intensive, footloose factories that briefly set up shop there in the 1950s and 1960s. The case-study is that of San Juan, the island's capital and largest conurbation, representing today over half of the island's population of 4 million people. I focus specifically on the work of the island's Planning Board in the 1940s-1960s and its myriad of urban policies, especially "slum removal," public housing, and suburbanization that produced a particular form of uneven development and feverish battles over the social production of space in the context of colonial modernization.

Keller Easterling
Associate Professor of Architecture, Yale University

“Zone”

Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are written not in the language of law and diplomacy but rather in the language of architecture and urbanism.  Perhaps the most vivid urban organs of architectural extrastatecraft, the technique of contemporary space-making most hidden in plain sight, is the zone.  A zone may be one of any number of variants including the Foreign Trade Zone, Export Processing Zone, and Special Economic Zone among many others.  Each zone type provides its own cocktail of exemptions that might include tax exemptions, foreign ownership of property, streamlined customs and deregulation of labor or environmental regulations. Heir to ancient pirate enclaves, the freeports of the Genoa, or the ports of Hanseatic trade, the zone is the perfect legal habitat of the corporation.  The earliest historical urges to incorporate express a desire for freedom and exclusivity. If it is the corporation’s legal duty to banish any obstacle to profit, and the zone is the spatial adjunct of this externalizing—a mechanism of political quarantine designed for corporate protection.

Tomas de’Medici (’11) and Xiangming Chen
Center for Urban and Global Studies, Trinity College

“First-Movers, Models and Then What? China's Special Economic Zones and Shenzhen in 30 Years”

The Special Economic Zones (SEZs) characterized the essence of China earlier domestic economic reform and global integration.  The SEZs constitute a sharp lens for understanding China’s economic and urban transformations over the last three decades for two important reasons.  First, the SEZs demonstrate why and how rapid economic growth and radical market experiment could have taken place under a partially open environment during early socialist transition as exemplified by contractual employment.  Second, the SEZs left a variety of imprints on the similar growth of other cities and special zones during later socialist transition such as land lease.  In this paper we reassess the conditions contributing to the staged development of the SEZs, especially Shenzhen with a main focus on the extent to which the SEZs have been a model and how they have offered lessons for local development and city building in China.  We conclude that as the SEZs’ value as innovative first-movers diminished, they continue to provide analytical clarity on China’s overall transformation over the last 30 years. 

Rachael Barlow
Social Science Data Coordinator, Trinity College

“What Buildings Do for a City (Middletown) in a State (CT) in a Country (USA)”

This paper takes a cue from sociologists who study technology in its suggestion that the materiality of a city matters in crucial ways for the social patterns that city contains.  A city’s buildings do more than serve as simple background for the social lives of its inhabitants.  Instead, the city’s buildings, because they are relatively permanent although often altered, do things for, with, and to the people who work and live in them.  In this case, I use building examples from Middletown, Connecticut to suggest how urban buildings co-construct the industrial, Nutmegger, and American identities of Middletown business and domestic residents.

Jason Beckfield
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Harvard University (participant and presenter)
Jessica Sprague-Jones
Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, Indiana University

"The Geography of Globalization: Changes in the Structure of the World City System, 1981-2007"

The phenomenon of globalization has sparked interest in the changing place of cities in the world system.  A new urban sociology contends that the rising and declining fortunes of cities are driven by their positions in networks of international trade and investment.  This new global approach also suggests that globalization generates a new geography of centrality and marginality: a new urban hierarchy that cuts across the traditional rich/poor, West/East, and North/South divides in the world system.  At the top of this new hierarchy are the "global cities" that operate as command and control centers in a global urban network interwoven by globalization.  Because of a lack of data on networks of cities that would allow for an analysis of relations among cities in the world economy, the contours of this network have only just begun to be explored.  In this paper, we take another step toward producing a comprehensive map of the world city system and of its evolution across the "era of globalization."  Our research focuses on a key relation linking cities into a world system of cities: that between multinational enterprises and their subsidiaries.  Our data consist of information on the headquarter and branch locations of the world's 500 largest multinational firms in 1981, 2000, and 2007.  Using network-analytic techniques, we address a central problematic of world city research: How has the global restructuring of the past three decades altered the world city system?

Ahmed Kanna
Visiting Fellow, Center for Urban and Global Studies, Trinity College

“The City—Corporation, the Arabization of Neoliberalism, and the Neoliberalization of Arabism in the Contemporary Gulf”

The notion of being ‘Arab’ in the contemporary Gulf is fraught in complexly different ways than in other parts of the Mashriq.  Arabness emerged relatively recently in the Gulf.  It is traceable to the late 1970s and 1980s (when events such as the Iranian Revolution had the unintended consequence of ‘Arabizing’ and ‘Islamicizing’ Gulf regimes).  This period (post-1970s) also happens to be the global emergence of neoliberalism.  I look at the notion of emergence in relation to these two arenas: identity and neoliberalism, a connection not often explored by the literature on either.  Aihwa Ong (2007) invites scholars to trace the alignments of rationality and logic at the ‘edge of emergence.’  Moreover, her suggestion that we increasingly focus on the localized practices and discourses that constitute actually existing neoliberalism is salutary: how are localized discursive and symbolic materials taken up by actors such as states, corporations (and combinations of the aforementioned), as well as non-institutional players in the project of fashioning identity, piety, virtue, etc.?  ‘Arabness’ is both novel and – in the context of the articulation between local Gulf capitalism and global neoliberalism – ‘emergent.’  It is complexly and actively deployed in the project of neoliberalization, productive on the level of identity. Locals elites argue that cities such as Dubai are both a perfect examples of neoliberal modernization and that this neoliberal identity is an elaboration of the city’s authentic Arab identity.  One of the ironies here is the eventual erasure of any connections between Arabism and the history of anti-colonial struggle represented by Nasserism and other Arabisms.  This neoliberalized Arabness is then taken up by Western elites (e.g., Thomas Friedman) to argue that cities and polities such as Dubai and Doha represent a liberation of the Arabs from such “unpalatable” ideologies as socialism and anticolonialism. This shift thus traces the broader shifts in the political and cultural geographies, as well as geographies of cultural/symbolic capital, in the contemporary Middle East.

Tyanai Masiya
Scholar Rescue Scholar, Center for Urban and Global Studies, Trinity College

“Social Accountability Mechanisms in African Cities: A Comparative Analysis of Participatory Budgeting in Harare, Zimbabwe and Johannesburg, South Africa”

African cities have historically been beleaguered by economic mismanagement, poor resource utilization and financial indiscipline. In order to prop up local development, and reverse these governance challenges, there is a new drive in support of social accountability mechanisms. The core goals of social accountability include promoting poverty reduction and effective and sustainable development. Available evidence suggests that social accountability mechanisms can contribute to improved governance, increased development, effectiveness through better service delivery and empowerment (Malena, etal, 2004). Participatory budgeting (PB) as an element of social accountability is an effective response to management malice that result in poor decisions, poor or disinvestments, dwindling resources and decaying infrastructure. Further, it generates trust between citizens and public officials thereby enabling cities to better handle demands from their communities. Factors affecting the implementation of PB in African cities include lack of funds, political commitments, confidence of marginalized groups, poor communication and mobilization, multi-ethnicity and diversity and polarized politics among others. This research traces the implementation of PB as a core element of social accountability in two African cities, namely Harare (Zimbabwe) and Johannesburg (South Africa), perceived and real consequences of its implementation as well as challenges and prospects.

Robert Forrant
Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Lowell

“Metal Fatigue: The Demise of Metalworking in the Connecticut River Valley and Its Social and Economic Impact on Springfield, Massachusetts”

On February 4, 1986 thousands of workers lives changed in ways they could only begin to imagine, for on that day United Technologies Corporation ordered the closure of the 76-year old American Bosch manufacturing plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, capping a nearly 32-year history of job loss and work relocation from the sprawling factory. For over 150 years Springfield stood at the center of a prosperous two hundred-mile industrial corridor along the Connecticut River between Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Springfield, Vermont, populated with hundreds of machine tool and metalworking plants and thousands of workers.  This paper offers an historical account of the profound economic collapse of the Connecticut River Valley region of the United States and places the Bosch shutdown in the context of the wider region’s deindustrialization, for the closure marked the watershed for large-firm metalworking and metalworking unions up and down the Connecticut River Valley. The region went from being one of the world’s leading exporters of machine tools to sharp economic decline that placed one of the region’s leading cities, Springfield, Massachusetts, on the verge of bankruptcy in 2005.

Michael Sacks
Professor of Sociology, Trinity College

“Puerto Rican Population Growth and Spatial Relocation in the Hartford and Springfield Metropolitan Areas”

Based on data from censuses 1990 and 2000, this paper examines the changing spatial location and economic status of Hispanics in the Hartford, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts metro areas.  These are among the US metro areas that have the highest percentage Puerto Rican among the resident Hispanics (73 percent in Hartford and 83 percent in Springfield).  Who moves and who stays with the Hispanic influx to the city and suburbs? How is Puerto Rican predominance related to racial/ethnic residential segregation in these regions?  What changes are occurring in the pattern of migration from Puerto Rico to central city and to suburbs?  What divisions exist among Hispanics across and within the suburbs?  These regions share conditions of overall population stagnation, economic decline of the central city and sprawling wealthy communities.  How do these factors influence opportunities for social mobility?  How do metro area differences in suburban economic development shape Hispanic achievement?

Brent Ryan
Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, Harvard University

"Global Pasts, Local Futures: Urban Megadevelopments and Market Competitiveness in Downtown Detroit-Windsor"

The Detroit, MI (USA) and Windsor, ON (Canada) binational metropolitan area once held the greatest concentration of automotive and related industries in the world. Through this activity the region experienced explosive population and employment growth during much of the twentieth century. In recent decades, however, the high costs of this growth has become apparent: deconcentration leading to urban decline, intermunicipal competition, and large areas of fixed and obsolete infrastructure. Global shifts have also reduced the attractiveness of the region for automotive production. As a result, the region’s global primacy has receded, and Detroit-Windsor faces a future in which the central cities must compete even to obtain regional amenities. This paper reviews the recent revitalization/economic development strategies in the Detroit/Windsor metropolitan region, with an eye to these cities' attention to competing both in the global, national, and regional marketplace. The majority of these strategies include the construction of new megaprojects in and around the downtown. These include casinos (regional and national markets); retail and office facilities (regional markets); automobile plants (global markets); sports facilities (national markets); and loft condominiums (regional markets). I review the physical strategies used to create and design these facilities and offer an initial assessment of their success in achieving the competitive goals that they have been intended for. In conclusion, I also review some smaller-scale projects that I argue offer compelling, but so far low-visibility and spatially marginal alternatives to corporate-dominated, heavily subsidized megadevelopments.