Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Crossroads Cities

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Crossroads Cities

Article excerpt

New York, Tangier, Bombay and the other dries profiled in this issue, have been dubbed "crossroads cities", a term which calls for some explanation. They are cities where life is particularly rich and variegated because their history has been punctuated by the arrival of successive waves of immigrants who settled in them side by side - in some cases packed closely together.

Prosperity wove the different strands of this urban population together and crisis unravelled them, but as hopes gradually mingled and memories intertwined, a sense of belonging developed, albeit one that fluctuated between solidarity and conflict. The pulse of these cities beats more intensely and more unpredictably than that of many others, but each one has acquired the knack of handling its spasms of violence and even of drawing vitality from them.

At first sight, these unusual socio-cultural excrescences seem to tell us nothing about the countries in which they are located. A closer look shows that this is not so. They have been grafted onto their nation's tissue and the graft has taken. They have grown and prospered within the nation because through a mysterious alchemy they have responded to some of its unspoken aspirations and unavowed desires. …

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