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Mapping the New Social Geography of American Cities  

Mapping the New Social Geography of American Cities: Place, Status & the Distribution of Vulnerabilities David Peritz In post-industrial American, location is destiny: whether describing economic mobility, educational opportunity, life expectancy, party affiliation, or consumption habits, place of residence predicts social profile with uncanny accuracy. One major divide, which we will touch on only briefly in this course, centers on those who live in urban areas, especially the large metropolitan areas mainly concentrated on the coasts, and those who live in exurban or rural areas, mainly though not exclusively in the non-coastal regions of the United States. But an historically unprecedented eighty percent of Americans now live in urban areas, and the social organization and dynamics of these areas will be the focus of this course. Why do cities now concentrate such a high proportion of the American population? How does urban life differ and what are the cultural and political implications of such a high concentration of city dwellers? Most importantly, how do the social dynamics of American cities work to organize opportunity, class, race, gender, sexuality, and other axes of differentiation, distribution and hierarchy today? By focusing on recent works in urban studies and social geography, we will come to grips with these issues. Week 1: Understanding Housing Insecurity in Contemporary Urban America Week 2: Global Cities, Winner-Take-All Urbanism and their Social and Human Consequences Week 3: The Persistence of Racial Segregation: A Stain on the Justice of American Democracy Week 4: Justice and Politics at the Municipal Level Works to be covered: Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City; Richard Florida, The New Urban Crisis Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform Benjamin R. Barber, If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities David Harvey, Social Justice and the City Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo Alice Goffman, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City Elijah Anderson, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life [1] Please note: these readings are mentioned only for the sake of reference and for anyone who is interested in going into greater depth on any of these topics. No prior familiarity with any of these works is assumed in any of these lectures. David Peritz has a DPhil in Politics from Oxford University, where his studies were supported by a Marshall Scholarship. He is Co-Chair of the Politics Department at Sarah Lawrence College, and a regular visiting faculty member in the Master of Arts of Liberal Studies program at Dartmouth. He has also taught at UC Berkeley, Harvard, Cornell and Deep Springs, and was a visiting scholar at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the London School of Economics. His research specialization is modern and contemporary political philosophy, especially contemporary theories of democracy and justice and their relations to issues of diversity and inequality This class is 3 hours per week for 4 weeks. Disclaimer: There is no make up week for this class. If something comes up to miss a week (we hope not!), even though a quarter of the class would be missed, we cannot adjust the registration fee.

 

  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University
    835 Market Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
    Phone: (415) 817-4243 Website: olli.sfsu.edu