Imagining Cities: Scripts, Signs, Memory

By Sallie Westwood; John Williams | Go to book overview

1

SIX DISCOURSES ON THE POSTMETROPOLIS

1

Edward W. Soja

Between the Watts riots of 1965 and what are now called the Rodney King or Justice riots of 1992, the urban region of Los Angeles experienced one of the most dramatic transformations of any comparable region of the world. For the resident Angelenos of the early 1960s a radically different, an ‘Other‘ Los Angeles seemed to be developing beyond their control or understanding. And it would increasingly, over time, replace many more familiar urban worlds with shockingly new ones. Over the same period of about thirty years, a group of local scholars have been trying to make practical and theoretical sense of this radical restructuring of Los Angeles and to use this knowledge to understand the often equally intense urban transformations taking place elsewhere in the world. What I would like to do here is draw upon the work of what some, perhaps prematurely, have begun to call the Los Angeles School of urban studies, and to argue that the transformation of Los Angeles represents both a unique urban experience and a particularly vivid example of a more general sea change in the very nature of contemporary urban life, in what we urbanists have called the urban process.

Some have been so entranced by this urban restructuring that they proclaim it to be the most extraordinary transformation in the nature of urbanism since the origins of the city more than 6,000 years ago. Others, only somewhat more modestly, describe it as the second great urban transformation, after the tumultuous emergence of the nineteenth-century industrial capitalist city. I tend to see it as the most recent of a series of dramatic crisis-driven urban restucturings that have been taking place over the past 200 years. But however one interprets the magnitude of the current changes and sets them in a comparative historical framework, there can be little doubt that something quite exceptional has been happening to the modern metropolis during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Making sense of these new urban processes on the basis of how they differ significantly from the past thus becomes, in my view, even more necessary than tracing origins in an unfolding history of urbanization and urbanism as a way of life.

I have recently chosen to use postmetropolis as a general term to accentuate the differences between contemporary urban regions and those that consolidated in the middle decades of the twentieth century. The

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Imagining Cities: Scripts, Signs, Memory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Imagining Cities 1
  • Part I 17
  • 1 - Six Discourses on the Postmetropolis 19
  • Notes 30
  • 2 - Imagining the Real-Time City 31
  • 3 - Chaotic Places or Complex Places? 50
  • Part II 71
  • 4 - Out of the Melting Pot into the Fire Next Time 73
  • 5 - White Governmentality 86
  • 6 - Migrant Spaces and Settlers' Time 104
  • Part III 125
  • 7 - Looking Backward 127
  • 8 - Authenticity and Suburbia 140
  • 9 - Proper Little Mesters 152
  • Part IV 179
  • 10 - This, Here, Now 181
  • 11 - (re)placing the City 202
  • 12 - Anglicising the American Dream 219
  • Part V 233
  • 13 - Cyberpunk as Social Theory 235
  • 14 - Cities, Subjectivity and Cyberspace 249
  • Bibliography 261
  • Index 279
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