Cities of Difference
March 20, 1998
ISBN 9781572303102 Price: $42.00
Size: 6" x 9"
How can contemporary theories of difference enhance our understanding of traditional urban studies concerns such as housing, labor markets, and structures of state entitlement? What are the connections between urban space and identity politics? This provocative text provides fresh perspectives on the fragmented city within a cultural political economy framework. Contributors explore the role of race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality, able-bodiedness, and other axes of difference in the geography of postmodern cities. Using a range of cutting-edge theoretical and methodological approaches, the book probes the relationship of the broader realities of urban life—economic polarization, gentrification, and the proliferation of sites of consumption to the everyday life and political power of different communities.
“This exciting and important book takes a critical approach to the concept of difference, examining its role in the constitution of urban life and the structuring of urban space. Informed by recent developments in feminism and postcolonial theory, the book illustrates the complexity of contemporary identity politics, encompassing issues of homelessness, disability, youth, aboriginality, single parents, and people with AIDS besides the more familiar differences associated with gender and sexuality, race, and class. In exploring questions of representation, signification and performativity, the book insists on grounding these processes in the material world. Drawing on a wide range of empirical work, the authors demonstrate how struggles over identity and difference are always locally articulated. Going beyond the mapping of difference, the book explores the social and spatial constitution of difference in processes of embodiment, aestheticization, and commodification. In place of shrill readings of globalization or postmodernity, Cities of Difference
provides a carefully nuanced cultural politics of the city, decentering, destabilizing, and radically unsettling much of the received wisdom of urban analysis.”—Peter Jackson, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sheffield, UK
“Cities of Difference sets out bold new directions for the study of urban and metropolitan regions. Refusing to reduce the 'urban question' to either political economy or culture, the contributors show how their interpenetration shapes the uneven material circumstances, social context, and subjective identities of urban residents. Richly textured, nuanced chapters throw into high relief questions of social and spatial justice, and provide insightful ways to confront dilemmas of fairness and access. Readers will never be able to see the city or urban space in the same way again.”—Jennifer Wolch, Professor of Geography, University of Southern California
“This volume features some of the best contemporary work by a new generation of urban geographers. Crossing over existing boundaries and interrogating conventional categories, contributors destabilize existing conceptual structures. The city emerges as a place where difference reigns—difference that is constantly reworked by individuals and groups through engagement with economic, social and political contexts. Theoretically astute and empirically alert, the book provides a distinctive fin-de-siecle synthesis of issues of urban subjectivity, identity, social and economic restructuring, and globalization.”—David Ley, Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia
Table of Contents
1. Introduction, Jacobs and Fincher
2. Grids of Difference: Place and Identity Formation, Pratt
3. In the Right Place at the Right Time?: Life Stages and Urban Spaces, Fincher
4. Suburban Stories, Gendered Lives: Thinking through Difference, Dowling
5. Justice and the Disabling City, Gleeson
6. Community Responses to Human Service Delivery in U.S. Cities, Takahashi
7. Sexuality and Urban Space: Gay Male Identity Politics in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, Knopp
8. Sexing the City, Bondi
9. Sites of Difference: Beyond a Cultural Politics of Race Polarity, Anderson
10. Contesting Social Relations in Communal Places: Identity Politics among Asian Communities in Dar es Salaam, Nagar and Leitner
11. Staging Difference: Aestheticization and the Politics of Difference in Contemporary Cities, Jacobs
12. Whose City?: Gender, Class, and Immigrants in Globalizing European Cities, Kofman
13. Social Polarization and the Politics of Difference: Discourses in Collision or Collusion?, Gibson
About the EditorsRuth Fincher
is Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where she has lectured since 1986. She received her doctorate in Geography from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, and has been on the faculty at McGill University and McMaster University in Canada. Her research, teaching, and publications focus primarily on critical urban studies, feminist theories of the state, multiculturalism and immigration, and sociospatial polarization.
Jane M. Jacobs
is Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Melbourne. Since earning her PhD from University College London, she has published widely in the area of cultural geography. Her specific interests include racialized identity politics, urban studies, and postcolonialism. She is author of Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City
and coauthor of Uncanny Australia: Sacredness and Identity in a Postcolonial Nation
Students and scholars of urban studies, geography, cultural studies, and sociology.
Serves as a text in advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses
Serves as a text in advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses.