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Città d'America

N. 7 Nuova Serie

Autunno 2014 - Anno XXI


A cura di: 
Bruno Cartosio e Fiorenzo Iuliano

Città d’America

Introduzione - p.5

Bruno Cartosio, Fiorenzo Iuliano
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Palme e conservifici: la Los Angeles di John Fante - p.8

Elisa Bordin

This essay analyzes John Fante's works set in Los Angeles, such as Ask the Dust (1939), The Road to Los Angeles (1935, posthumous) and The Little Brown Brothers (posthumous). While it is possible to read Ask the Dust against what Mike Davis in City of Quartz (1990) has called the boosters' and the debunkers' literary representations of the city, the novel also shows an attention to 1930s Los Angeles's racial dinamics and inter-ethnic relations, which are further developed in The Road to Los Angeles and The Little Brown Brothers. In these two works, Fante narrates the often forgotten past of Filipino and proletarian Los Angeles, depicting an alternative image of the city distant from its usual glorified vision as a white Hollywood-related center.

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Occupy Beverly Hills. Los Angeles tra spazi egemonici e postmetropoli - p.23

Mauro Pala

For the past century, Los Angeles has been seething with paradoxes and intertwining utopic and dystopic visions, which have constantly integrated the material world into the Hollywood fictional dimension. The evolution from early twentieth century land grabbing to the industrial boom of the Second World War right up to late century deindustrialisation makes Los Angeles a perfect exemplification of the post-Fordist rise of the metropolis, marked by the typical phenomena prompted by a globalized New Economy. In the light of all this, the article investigates the links between urban geography and current social composition, unveiling how recent immigration flows and a new civic consciousness have put L.A. at the center of the debate in contemporary urban studies.

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Vivere a New York City, 2014: l’esperienza del community college - p.38

Bettina Berch

In this account of her personal experience as an adjunct, teaching at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bettina Berch initially compares the fictional college of the tv series Community with the reality of the BMCC, then proceeds to describe how a community college functions in a city like New York. The main two points the author stresses in her brief essay are, how closely the fragmentary social, ethnic, cultural, and national composition of the student body at the BMCC reflects the mosaic of the city herself, and how important the community college is in preparing its students for their entrance or re-entrance into the metropolitan labor market.

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“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”: multietnicità e multiculturalismo negli outer boroughs - p.42

Andrea Carosso

As cities become ever more crucial human concentrations in the XXI century, New York City continues to stand out as the most advanced urban experiment on earth, symbolizing what urban sociologists have recently defined "the triumph of the city", i.e. a strategic laboratory - despite the "death of distance" brought about by technology - of social, economic, cultural and technological change. Since the XIX century, an almost incessant immigration flow has supplied New York City with valuable human capital that has made the city a multiethnic hub. As immigration patterns further diversified beginning in the 1960s, New York has not only grown into an ever more multicultural metropolis, but has become an incubator of future post-national societies. The compass of New York's urban mosaic has been extending, more than ever before, from Manhattan to the city's outer boroughs, Queens and Brooklyn in particular, where neighborhoods undergo constant transformations as different ethnic groups incessantly replace one another in an ever-shifting ethnic urban map. In the wake of 9-11, the backlash on Arab and Muslim minorities in the city, especially in Brooklyn, has tested the limits of its multicultural experiment as well as its much heralded urban "triumph".

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Young Lords Party: attivisti del Barrio tra isolamento e contaminazione urbana - p.55

Vincenzo Bavaro

Between 1969 and 1972, the New York Puerto Rican activist group of the Young Lords Party organized several initiatives, "offensives," in East Harlem, Manhattan. In this article, Bavaro provides an overview of this understudied social movement, its main actions and ideological directions, while highlighting the interplay between the social space of New York City and the party's development. It describes a community-based, site-specific militant group that was nonetheless profoundly permeable to contemporary events and issues that were animating the city at large and the nation.

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Crisi dei mutui e nuove geografie urbane: il caso Newark - p.68

Rosie Jayde Uyola

The article examines the houses foreclosure crisis of the early twenty-first century and its impact on urban residents. In particular, it explores the rise of foreclosures in urban communities related to the subprime mortgage market crisis using Newark, New Jersey, as a case study. Examining foreclosure as a process, rather than an event, it shows how a collaborative effort among researchers, government officials, nonprofits, and practitioners can produce useful data and responsive strategies by establishing and remaining in communication with one another. Using the financial crisis as an entry-point for this exploration, the complex relationships between urban geography, the subprime mortgage industry, and transnational capital circuits developed by global corporations come into focus.

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Un’endiadi impossibile. Parlare di città degli Stati Uniti oggi - p.78

Fiorenzo Iuliano

This article analyzes several texts, published over the last two decades, which focus on postmodern space and the city in the United States. In particular, it tries to deconstruct the very phrase "American city", which has been addressed by postmodern theorists as a cultural construct and, consequently, as a primarily theoretical notion. Reading works written by Rem Koolhaas, Michel de Certeau, Marc Auge and Jean Baudrillard vis-a-vis the works of sociologists and urban scientists, like Marshall Berman and Sharon Zukin, the article tries to figure out a new perspective to describe and narrate American cities today, halfway between the abstract postmodern theoretical speculations and the strictly materialist and sociological approach.

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Citizenship by design. Questione sociale come questione urbana: cinquant’anni di politiche contro la povertà negli Usa - p.92

Alessandro Coppola

In this essay the author offers an overview of, and discusses the most representative policies adopted by city, state and federal governments in the United States to deal with poverty in the cities. His analysis encompasses roughly the last five decades of the XX century, starting with Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty" which for the first time tackled the problem as both a social and an urban problem. The rigid color line that up to then had supplemented wealth and income in determining the residential segregation within the cities, and separated black inner cities and white suburbs, has been progressively blurred - but not cancelled - since then, Coppola argues. The policies specifically adopted to tackle the problems of urban poverty after the 1960s, according to the author, have varied greatly both in character, and efficacy, revealing their debt to the ideological-political changes at the institutional level. The policies the author focuses his attention upon are, the Community Action Program; the Community Development Corporations; the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing Program; the Community Benefit Agreements.

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Città d’America nel nuovo millennio - p.106

Bruno Cartosio

The main thesis expounded in this essay is that the large American cities created by the second industrial revolution have been pushed into a crisis by the advent of a new revolution in the last decades of the XX century. The essay concentrates on the consequences that the recent processes of de-industrialization, changes in the labor market, and globalization - that brought to an end the second industrial revolution - have had on American cities and the society at large. The analysis is intertwined with the narration of the direct, personal knowledge the author has of Detroit, which emerges as the city wherein the de-industrialization has had its worst social effects. But Detroit is not alone. Many American cities that embodied the many successes of mass production during the XX century have been facing a dramatic decline in the recent decades. And the author doubts that the parallel, new industrial revolution, or rather post-industrial revolution that has been taking place in America - "favoring" other cities - will compensate that decline at the national level, reducing the social distress and the inequalities that at present characterize the United States.

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Paesaggi d’America - p.119

Vilma Ricci, Giovanni Grilli
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Detroit, città in fuga - p.126

Pietro Valle

The paper analyzes the development and crisis of Detroit caused by deindustrialization, suburbanization and racial opposition between African-American downtown and white suburbs. Various responses have been given to the aban­donment of the city (which has lost almost one million inhabitants in the last fifty years): among them, the artists' effort to rescue the fading memory of the city; the real estate attempts to repopulate the downtown; projects based on New Urbanism for the neighborhoods that have gentrified historic districts; and Landscape Urbanism projects that have tried to make sense of the empty areas through greenery and agricultural exploitation. All of these attempts are facing the contradiction of a city based on capitalist development that is con­tinuously on the move and is not able to learn from its recent past.

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