Stick ball, stoop sitting, pickle barrel colloquys: The neighborhood occupies a warm place in our cultural memory—a place that Kenneth A. Scherzer contends may have more to do with ideology and nostalgia than with historical accuracy. In this remarkably detailed analysis of neighborhood life in New York City between 1830 and 1875, Scherzer gives the neighborhood its due as a complex, richly textured social phenomenon and helps to clarify its role in the evolution of cities. After a critical examination of recent historical renderings of neighborhood life, Scherzer focuses on the ecological, symbolic, and social aspects of nineteenth-century community life in New York City. Employing a wide array of sources, from census reports and church records to police blotters and brothel guides, he documents the complex composition of neighborhoods that defy simple categorization by class or ethnicity. From his account, the New York City neighborhood emerges as a community in flux, born out of the chaos of May Day, the traditional moving day. The fluid geography and heterogeneity of these neighborhoods kept most city residents from developing strong local attachments. Scherzer shows how such weak spatial consciousness, along with the fast pace of residential change, diminished the community function of the neighborhood. New Yorkers, he suggests, relied instead upon the "unbounded community," a collection of friends and social relations that extended throughout the city. With pointed argument and weighty evidence, The Unbounded Community replaces the neighborhood of nostalgia with a broader, multifaceted conception of community life. Depicting the neighborhood in its full scope and diversity, the book will enhance future forays into urban history.
Almost fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, a wealth of research shows that minority students continue to receive an unequal education. At the heart of this inequality is a complex and often conflicted relationship between teachers and civil rights activists, examined fully for the first time in Jonna Perrillo’s Uncivil Rights, which traces the tensions between the two groups in New York City from the Great Depression to the present.
While movements for teachers’ rights and civil rights were not always in conflict, Perrillo uncovers the ways they have become so, brought about both by teachers who have come to see civil rights efforts as detracting from or competing with their own goals and by civil rights activists whose aims have de-professionalized the role of the educator. Focusing in particular on unionized teachers, Perrillo finds a new vantage point from which to examine the relationship between school and community, showing how in this struggle, educators, activists, and especially our students have lost out.
During the last two decades, many U.S. universities have restructured themselves to operate more like corporations. Nowhere has this process been more dramatic than at New York University, which has often been touted as an exemplar of the "corporate university." Over the same period, an academic labor movement has arisen in response to this corporatization. Using the unprecedented 2005 strike by the graduate student union at NYU as a springboard, The University Against Itself provides a brief history of labor organizing on American campuses, analyzes the state of academic labor today, and speculates about how the university workplace may evolve for employees.
All of the contributors were either participants in the NYU strike -- graduate students, faculty, and organizers -- or are nationally recognized as writers on academic labor. They are deeply troubled by the ramifications of corporatizing universities. Here they spell out their concerns, offering lessons from one historic strike as well as cautions about the future of all universities.
Contributors include: Stanley Aronowitz, Barbara Bowen, Andrew Cornell, Ashley Dawson, Stephen Duncombe, Steve Fletcher, Greg Grandin, Adam Green, Kitty Krupat, Gordon Lafer, Micki McGee, Sarah Nash, Cary Nelson, Matthew Osypowski, Ed Ott, Ellen Schrecker, Susan Valentine, and the editors.
After surviving the Khmer Rouge genocide, followed by years of confinement to international refugee camps, as many as 10,000 Southeast Asian refugees arrived in the Bronx during the 1980s and ‘90s. Unsettled chronicles the unfinished odyssey of Bronx Cambodians, closely following one woman and her family for several years as they survive yet resist their literal insertion into concentrated Bronx poverty.
Eric Tang tells the harrowing and inspiring stories of these refugees to make sense of how and why the displaced migrants have been resettled in the “hyperghetto.” He argues that refuge is never found, that rescue discourses mask a more profound urban reality characterized by racialized geographic enclosure, economic displacement and unrelenting poverty, and the criminalization of daily life.
Unsettled views the hyperghetto as a site of extreme isolation, punishment, and confinement. The refugees remain captives in late-capitalist urban America. Tang ultimately asks: What does it mean for these Cambodians to resettle into this distinct time and space of slavery’s afterlife?
Glossy magazines write about them, celebrities give their names to them, and you’d better believe there’s an app (or ten) committed to finding you the right one. They are New York City restaurants and food shops. And their journey to international notoriety is a captivating one. The now-booming food capital was once a small seaport city, home to a mere six municipal food markets that were stocked by farmers, fishermen, and hunters who lived in the area. By 1890, however, the city’s population had grown to more than one million, and residents could dine in thousands of restaurants with a greater abundance and variety of options than any other place in the United States.
Historians, sociologists, and foodies alike will devour the story of the origins of New York City’s food industry in Urban Appetites. Cindy R. Lobel focuses on the rise of New York as both a metropolis and a food capital, opening a new window onto the intersection of the cultural, social, political, and economic transformations of the nineteenth century. She offers wonderfully detailed accounts of public markets and private food shops; basement restaurants and immigrant diners serving favorites from the old country; cake and coffee shops; and high-end, French-inspired eating houses made for being seen in society as much as for dining. But as the food and the population became increasingly cosmopolitan, corruption, contamination, and undeniably inequitable conditions escalated. Urban Appetites serves up a complete picture of the evolution of the city, its politics, and its foodways.
Provocative, moving, powerful, explicit, strong, unapologetic. These are a few words that have been used to describe the groundbreaking Brooklyn-based dance troupe Urban Bush Women. Their unique aesthetic borrows from classical and contemporary dance techniques and theater characterization exercises, incorporates breath and vocalization, and employs space and movement to instill their performances with emotion and purpose. Urban Bush Women concerts are also deeply rooted in community activism, using socially conscious performances in places around the country—from the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, and the Joyce, to community centers and school auditoriums—to inspire audience members to engage in neighborhood change and challenge stereotypes of gender, race, and class.
Nadine George-Graves presents a comprehensive history of Urban Bush Women since their founding in 1984. She analyzes their complex work, drawing on interviews with current and former dancers and her own observation of and participation in Urban Bush Women rehearsals. This illustrated book captures the grace and power of the dancers in motion and provides an absorbing look at an innovative company that continues to raise the bar for socially conscious dance.
Were the urbane, avant-garde poets of the New York School secretly nature lovers like Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, and Annie Dillard? In Urban Pastoral, Timothy Gray urges us to reconsider our long-held appraisals of Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, and their peers as celebrants of cosmopolitan culture and to think of their more pastoral impulses. As Gray argues, flowers are more beautiful in the New York School’s garden of verse because no one expects them to bloom there.
Along with the poets whose careers he chronicles, Gray shows us that startlingly new approaches to New York City art and literature emerge when natural and artificial elements collide kaleidoscopically, as when O’Hara likens blinking stars to a hairnet, when painter Jane Freilicher places a jar of irises in her studio window to mirror purple plumes rising from Consolidated Edison smokestacks, or when poet Kathleen Norris equates rooftop water towers with grain silos as she plans her escape route to the Great Plains.
The New York School poets and their coterie have become a staple of poetics, literary criticism and biography, cultural studies, and art criticism, but Urban Pastoral is the first study of the original New York School poets to offer sustained discussion of the pastoral and natural imagery within the work of these renowned “city poets” and also consider poets from the second generation of the New York School—Diane di Prima, Jim Carroll, and Kathleen Norris.
Moving beyond the traditional boundaries of literary criticism to embrace the creative spirit of New York poets and artists, Gray’s accessible, lively, and blithely experimental book will shape future discussions of contemporary urban literature and literary nature writing, offering new evidence of avant-garde poetry’s role within those realms.
Karen Kaufmann's groundbreaking study shows that perceptions of interracial conflict can cause voters in local elections to focus on race, rather than party attachments or political ideologies. Using public opinion data to examine mayoral elections in New York and Los Angeles over the past 35 years, Kaufmann develops a contextual theory of local voting behavior that accounts for the Republican victories of the 1990s in these overwhelmingly Democratic cities and the "liberal revivals" that followed. Her conclusions cast new light on the interactions between government institutions, local economies, and social diversity. The Urban Voter offers a critical analysis of urban America's changing demographics and the ramifications of these changes for the future of American politics.
This book will interest scholars and students of urban politics, racial politics, and voting behavior; the author's interdisciplinary approach also incorporates theoretical insights from sociology and social psychology. The Urban Voter is appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate level courses.
Karen Kaufmann is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park.