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Urban Imaginaries

Urban Imaginaries: Locating the Modern City

Alev Çinar
Thomas Bender
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Urban Imaginaries
    Book Description:

    The essays in Urban Imaginaries focus on how social and physical space is conceived as both indefinite and singular and offer case studies on cities in Brazil, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, and India, as well as in the United States and France. Contributors: Margaret Cohen, Camilla Fojas, Beatriz Jaguaribe, Anthony D. King, Mark LeVine, Srirupa Roy, Seteney Shami, AbdouMaliq Simone, Maha Yahya, Deniz Yükseker.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5423-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction. The City: Experience, Imagination, and Place
    (pp. xi-xxvi)
    Alev Çinar and Thomas Bender

    The ambition of urban theory is the generation of a formal definition of the city and a characterization of the urban experience. Once the city stood out against the landscape, walled and compact, surrounded by a hinterland. As late as the middle of the twentieth century, such a concept of the city—a center and a surround—seemed adequate. But in fact the boundaries of cities, the relations of different groups within the city to a variety of extended meanings and connections beyond the imaginary wall, are both pervasive and distinct. This has become obvious in our own time as...

  5. Boundaries, Networks, and Cities: Playing and Replaying Diasporas and Histories
    (pp. 1-14)
    Anthony D. King

    As researchers and scholars engaged in representing various aspects of the world to others, we tend to think of “the city” as somehow singular, as some kind of self-contained, bounded entity, a social, spatial, or experientially tangible unit. We reify the city. We give it a name. We may see different cities as separate and isolated dots on a map that locate the city in relation to a larger space, perhaps a state, linguistic, or religious community or a particular geographical, religious, or ideological understanding of “the world.”

    Yet this kind of (essentially imaginative) representation is quite static and fixed....

  6. Part I. The City and Its Boundaries

    • 1 Economy and Gender in the Urban Borderland: The Public Culture of Laleli, Istanbul
      (pp. 17-36)
      Deniz Yükseker

      In the past quarter of a century, cities have become arenas for the circulation oftransnationalflows of capital, goods, people, and ideas. This is enabled by the receding regulatory powers of nation-states and the widespread access to telecommunications technologies. Urban struggles over resources, places, and meaning that emanate from this process often result in the creation of new social, ethnic, and class boundarieswithincities.¹ Yet, sometimes, cultural and economicborderlandsmay also be produced through the mobility of goods, money, people, and ideas.

      This chapter addresses the creation of such a cultural and economic borderland in Istanbul during...

    • 2 Borderlined in the Global City (of Angels)
      (pp. 37-54)
      Camilla Fojas

      Many critical Latino films based in Los Angeles during the 1980s mark a distinct turn in the vision of the global city; they challenge its reputation as a center of cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism, a place where difference is celebrated and experienced, and as a sovereign location of hospitality and refuge for the stranger and the immigrant. Instead, many Latino films link the national borderline with barriers faced by Latinos in the city. Films such asEl Norte(Gregory Nava, 1983),Born in East L.A.(Cheech Marin, 1987),Stand and Deliver(Ramón Menéndez, 1988), andAmerican Me(Edward James Olmos, 1992)...

    • 3 Modernity on the Waterfront: The Case of Haussmann’s Paris
      (pp. 55-76)
      Margaret Cohen

      The ship that is the seal of Paris calls attention to the importance of boat transport in its history. This importance dates back to the Middle Ages when Paris took shape as an archipelago city, composed of islands and banks united by the Seine. This point is worth pondering by scholars of the nineteenth-century Paris, given the landlockedtopoithey associate with the development of Parisian modernity. In Walter Benjamin’s powerful paradigm articulated on the topography of nineteenth-century Paris, the bourgeoisie emerge from their cosseted interiors and the working classes from their overcrowdedfaubourgsto gather in squares and boulevards...

  7. Part II. Competing Narratives of the City:: Contested Inclusions and Exclusions

    • 4 Assembling Douala: Imagining Forms of Urban Sociality
      (pp. 79-99)
      AbdouMaliq Simone

      African cities appear wrecked, and the progressive disappearance of any kind of work, formal or informal, makes it nearly impossible for Africans to anticipate what tomorrow might bring. The capacity to maintain recognizable and usable forms of collective solidarity and collaboration becomes difficult. A sense of being encompassed, drawn into, and acting upon a circumscribed world of commonality is nearly impossible as the previously relied upon practices of forging solidarity fall apart. Urban residents appear increasingly uncertain as to how to spatialize an assessment of their life chances—that is, where will they secure livelihood, where can they feel protected...

    • 5 Cities without Maps: Favelas and the Aesthetics of Realism
      (pp. 100-120)
      Beatriz Jaguaribe

      Perched on the mountains overlooking the beaches of Rio, sprawling horizontally at the edges of São Paulo, or facing the sewage-choked lagoons in Salvador, favelas are an overwhelming feature of city life in Brazil.¹ The contradictory relations between the favela and the city constitute a key issue of the Brazilian urban experience because they translate how the expectations of the modern metropolis have been both frustrated and partially fulfilled. They have been defeated because the material promise of modernity as access to goods and services has been undermined by the radical economic and social inequality between the rich and the...

    • 6 Fateful Triangles: Modernity and Its Antinomies in a Mediterranean Port City
      (pp. 121-148)
      Mark LeVine

      In a groundbreaking 2002 essay in the journalPublic Culture, Rebecca L. Stein analyzed the genealogy of Israeli tourism in the Arab world as an outgrowth of the Oslo process.¹ While the main focus of her article was Israeli tourism abroad, the city of Tel Aviv makes several crucial appearances in the narrative: as the center of Shimon Peres’s vision of a globalized “New Middle East,” as home to tens of thousands of foreign (often “illegal”) workers, and as a space that would soon (it was feared) be invaded by tourists in the form of “black-clad women from Iran.”


  8. Part III. The City and the Vision of the Nation

    • 7 The Imagined Community as Urban Reality: The Making of Ankara
      (pp. 151-181)
      Alev Çinar

      The relationship between modernity and the city is no doubt a complex one. Even though urban theory has been exploring this relationship thoroughly, this investigation has been limited by a Eurocentric conceptualization of modernity, thereby producing a skewed analysis that takes the Western urban experience as the norm. This limitation is augmented with the complexities and ambiguities arising from the diverse uses of the concept of modernity that can take many, sometimes contradictory meanings. For example, a textbook definition takes modernity as a “distinct and unique form of social life” characterized by a cluster of institutions such as the nation-state,...

    • 8 Urban Space, National Time, and Postcolonial Difference: The Steel Towns of India
      (pp. 182-207)
      Srirupa Roy

      In 1957, the Indian state announced its second five-year plan. Explicitly borrowing from both the form and the content of Soviet-style economic planning, a program of nation-building through heavy industrialization was proclaimed that committed significant financial, political, and human resources to rapid state-sponsored industrial growth and the creation of large-scale projects such as hydroelectric stations; steel plants; locomotive, cement, and fertilizer factories; and shipyards. The mandate of the second plan (and the third plan with its continued emphasis on heavy industrialization) also included the building of several industrial townships in areas adjacent to the plan projects. The rationale for township...

    • 9 “Amman Is Not a City”: Middle Eastern Cities in Question
      (pp. 208-235)
      Seteney Shami

      Amman is a much-maligned city. Its inhabitants complain endlessly of its dullness and lack of charm. The elites complain of the lack of cosmopolitanism and nightlife intellectuals complain of the lack of artistic or literary movements, merchants complain of a lack of market, university students complain of the lack of campus life, and ethnic groups complain of the lack of ethnic neighborhoods. Expatriates complain about the lack of authenticity. The poor, of course, have a great deal about which to complain. Each segment of urban society appears to be complaining about its own failure to realize itself. The inhabitants of...

    • 10 Let the Dead Be Dead: Communal Imaginaries and National Narratives in the Post—Civil War Reconstruction of Beirut
      (pp. 236-266)
      Maha Yahya

      In a conference in Beirut in 1999 titled Memory for the Future, a prominent local politician declared: “We should let the dead be dead. It is the only way forward.” Coming at the end of three days of discussion in which the postwar experiences of Lebanon, Rwanda, South Africa, and France and the role of memory in postwar reconciliation were discussed, compared, and contrasted, this statement seemed quite remarkable for the purported pragmatism it presented.

      The Lebanese civil war ended in 1990, nine years prior to the preceding statement. A massive reconstruction effort had been launched by the Lebanese state....

  9. Conclusion. Reflections on the Culture of Urban Modernity
    (pp. 267-278)
    Thomas Bender

    The study of urban culture over the past quarter century has been largely a search for the modern city or urban modernity. These chapters, in their self-conscious address of the particularity of cities, make an important and timely point about that quest. They argue against the notion of a universal urban modernity, and they raise questions even about the idea of alternative modernities. The latter formulation implies a hierarchy of modernities (or at least a pattern of precedence), while the former collapses under the weight of the manifold differences among cities and cultures. These chapters emphasize the value, indeed the...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 279-280)
  11. Index
    (pp. 281-290)