Barrio Dreams

Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the Neoliberal City

ARLENE DÁVILA
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 271
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pp7vb
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  • Book Info
    Barrio Dreams
    Book Description:

    Arlene Dávila brilliantly considers the cultural politics of urban space in this lively exploration of Puerto Rican and Latino experience in New York, the global center of culture and consumption, where Latinos are now the biggest minority group. Analyzing the simultaneous gentrification and Latinization of what is known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem,Barrio Dreamsmakes a compelling case that-despite neoliberalism's race-and ethnicity-free tenets-dreams of economic empowerment are never devoid of distinct racial and ethnic considerations. Dávila scrutinizes dramatic shifts in housing, the growth of charter schools, and the enactment of Empowerment Zone legislation that promises upward mobility and empowerment while shutting out many longtime residents. Foregrounding privatization and consumption, she offers an innovative look at the marketing of Latino space. She emphasizes class among Latinos while touching on black-Latino and Mexican-Puerto Rican relations. Providing a unique multifaceted view of the place of Latinos in the changing urban landscape,Barrio Dreamsis one of the most nuanced and original examinations of the complex social and economic forces shaping our cities today.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93772-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: BARRIO BUSINESS, BARRIO DREAMS
    (pp. 1-26)

    “This is not an antipoverty program,” repeated New York City congressman Charles Rangel to a beleaguered audience of East Harlemites, mostly Black and Puerto Rican, in an informational forum on Empowerment Zone (EZ) legislation. Once again, the initiative he himself had helped design to revitalize distressed inner-city communities through economic investment and incentives was the subject of much reproach and criticism. In particular, East Harlem Latinos felt that they and their community had been neglected by the initiative. But Rangel was adamant: “This is not about your dreams. This is about business, profit, and jobs.” Only projects that prove to...

  6. ONE Dreams of Place and Housing Struggles
    (pp. 27-58)

    InBodega Dreams,Ernesto Quiñonez’s novel set in El Barrio, the hopeful protagonist Willie Bodega dreams of building a Latino professional class born and bred in El Barrio that, through cunning and politics, would lead all Latinos toward economic and political empowerment. A former Young Lords activist, Bodega had learned that it is only by Anglo rules, by stealing through “signing the right papers,” by accumulating property, money, and power, that Latinos can get ahead in El Barrio. Foremost, Bodega is keenly aware that the 1960s are over. The government is no longer pouring money into El Barrio; white yuppies...

  7. TWO “El Barrio es de Todos”: PREDICAMENTS OF CULTURE AND PLACE
    (pp. 59-96)

    Like many ethnic urban communities, El Barrio has historically been the focus of interests as varied as missionaries, reformers, social workers, anthropologists, developers, artists, museum professionals, and planners—a legacy I now follow. Even while researching this book, I observed the sizable number of students and professionals scouting the neighborhood for a variety of scholarly, business, and research purposes. There was the reporter taking pictures of a drunken man in the street, no doubt to use as an example of urban grit; the art enthusiast taking pictures ofcasitason 115th Street; the TV crews scouting ad locations; as well...

  8. THREE Empowered Culture? THE EMPOWERMENT ZONE AND THE SELLING OF EL BARRIO
    (pp. 97-127)

    The marketing of culture, be it through museums, restaurants, or even parades, is central to tourism, one of the most important industries feeding the city’s international standing. It was therefore expected that the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (EZ) legislation, introduced in Congress by Charles Rangel in 1994, and still in effect, would launch a Cultural Industry Investment Fund, providing a perfect example of the close alliance between culture and profit in urban centers like New York City. Intended to “stimulate the production of cultural products and services which will attract larger audiences, create jobs, and increase the economic benefits of...

  9. FOUR The Edison Project: ON CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS, MUSEUMS, AND THE EDUCATION OF EL BARRIO
    (pp. 128-152)

    Amid the Museum of the City of New York’s impending move out of East Harlem, another museum was aggressively negotiating to move in. Promising to bring the “first national headquarters to relocate north of Ninety-sixth Street,” as well as jobs, increased tourism, and world-class architecture, among other benefits, the Edison Project (involving a charter school and Edison’s corporate headquarters), along with the Museum for African Art, proposed a move to Fifth Avenue and 110th Street, a coveted and long-contentious location.¹ Bordering East and West Harlem, this location holds an important historic and symbolic position among both Puerto Ricans and African...

  10. FIVE The Mexican Barrio: MEXICANS, PUERTO RICANS, AND THE TERRAIN OF LATINIDAD
    (pp. 153-180)

    With headlines such as “El Barrio, menos bacalao y mas chile” (El Barrio, less codfish and more chile) and “Mapa latino con acento mexicano” (Latin map with a Mexican accent), local news on the 2000 census stressed what was obvious to anyone familiar with El Barrio: Mexicans are the fastest growing Latino group and they are actively reshaping the city’s landscape.¹ In the past decade, Mexicans have formed vibrant communities in Corona, Sunset Park, and Jackson Heights, but because of its location in Manhattan, El Barrio’s Mexican community has surfaced as one of the most visible and well known. El...

  11. SIX The Marketable Neighborhood: OUTDOOR ADS MEET STREET ART
    (pp. 181-204)

    Outdoor ads are yet another entry point into the cultural politics of space in El Barrio and of trends toward marketable ethnicity. These ubiquitous signs inscribe meaning onto space, especially as El Barrio’s landscape becomes more uniform. Advertised products, intended audiences, and the language and cultural references contained in the ads are all signs that communicate meaning alongside that expressed by murals, flags, chain stores, and other markings of space. They indicate the kind of neighborhood one is entering, the people that inhabit it, their potential likes, tastes, and ethnic backgrounds. More poignantly, outdoor ads are illustrative of the identities...

  12. Some Final Words
    (pp. 205-214)

    There is no such thing as an “ending” when the everyday struggles of a community facing such rapid transformations as El Barrio are concerned. But one of the most moving meetings I attended prompts me to recap some recurring issues around the cultural politics of space in East Harlem/El Barrio, and the multiple issues that are currently at stake. Once again, I start with an exchange taking place at a public hearing, if only to call attention to the everyday debates triggered by neoliberal policies and processes of gentrification. The May 2002 hearing debated the contested eviction of the Rosarios’...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 215-234)
  14. References
    (pp. 235-250)
  15. Index
    (pp. 251-260)