My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization

My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization

My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization

My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization

Synopsis

At once informative and entertaining, inspiring and challenging, My Los Angeles provides a deep understanding of urban development and change over the past forty years in Los Angeles and other city regions of the world. Once the least dense American metropolis, Los Angeles is now the country's densest urbanized area and one of the most culturally heterogeneous cities in the world. Soja takes us through this urban metamorphosis, analyzing urban restructuring, deindustrialization and reindustrialization, the globalization of capital and labor, and the formation of an information-intensive New Economy. By examining his own evolving interpretations of Los Angeles and the debates on the so-called Los Angeles School of urban studies, Soja argues that a radical shift is taking place in the nature of the urbanization process, from the familiar metropolitan model to regional urbanization. By looking at such concepts as new regionalism, the spatial turn, the end of the metropolis era, the urbanization of suburbia, the global spread of industrial urbanism, and the transformative urban-industrialization of China, Soja offers a unique and remarkable perspective on critical urban and regional studies.

Excerpt

With its incomparable outward reach, Los Angeles vividly screens itself everywhere on earth, evoking images—and strong opinions—from practically everyone, including many who have never been there and depend on the opinions and images of others to shape their impressions. Its iconic imagery provokes exaggeration, fomenting emotionally excessive repulsion as well as unbridled attraction. Real and imagined LA seethes with such paradoxes— provocative intertwinings of utopia and dystopia, brilliant sunshine and noir decadence, opportunity and danger, optimism and despair.

Further complicating any understanding of the actual place, Los Angeles for the past century has been a fountainhead of imaginative fantasy, emitting a mesmerizing force that obscures reality by eroding the difference between the real and the imagined, fact and fiction. As one observer put it, Los Angeles has a “history of forgetting,” swallowing its past and re-creating its own fantastic reality. No other city is shrouded in such an armor of deflective imagery, making it difficult to know whether what one sees is actually there, or whether there is a there there at all, to paraphrase and relocate Gertrude Stein’s well-known comment on another part of California.

LA’s first major surge of urban development in the late nineteenth century was rooted in creative simulations of an Edenic Los Angeles, from the ersatz romanticism of the Ramona myth, which preached peaceful interracial love in an earthly paradise, to the rampant real estate boosterism that slyly attracted millions of Americans to the life-saving sunshine and other boastful attractions of Iowa’s Pacific seaport. What was covered up in this forgetful reimagining, among other embarrassing blemishes, was the jingoistic ardor that accompanied the ethnic cleansing of Spanish-speaking Los Angeles after the war of 1846–48. This great American land grab would, after . . .

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