Imagineering Atlanta: The Politics of Place in the City of Dreams (Haymarket)

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9781859841457: Imagineering Atlanta: The Politics of Place in the City of Dreams (Haymarket)

In the age of decentralization, instant communications, and the subordination of locality to the demands of a globalizing market, contemporary cities have taken on place-less or a-geographic characters. They have become phantasmagorical landscapes. Atlanta, argues Charles Rutheiser, is in many ways paradigmatic of this generic urbanism. As such, it provides a fertile ground for investigating the play of culture, power and place within a “non-place urban realm.” Rutheiser uses the mobilization for the 1996 Olympics to talk about the uneven development of Atlanta‘s landscape. Like other cities lacking any natural advantages, Atlanta‘s reputation and built form have been regularly reconfigured by generations of entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists and assorted visionaries to create a service-oriented information city of global reach. Borrowing a term from Walt Disney, Rutheiser refers to these successive waves of organized and systematic promotion as linked, but not always well-co-ordinated acts of urban “imagineering.” Focusing on the historic core of the metropolitan area, Rutheiser shows how Atlanta has long been both a test bed for federal urban renewal and a playground for private capital. The city provides an object lesson in internal colonization and urban underdevelopment. Yet, however illustrative of general trends, Atlanta also represents a unique conjunction of universals and particulars; it exemplifies a reality quite unlike either New York or Los Angeles—two cities to which it has often been compared. This book thus adds an important case study to the emerging discourse on contemporary urbanism. It goes beyond providing another account of uneven development and the “theme-parking” of a North American city: Rutheiser reflects on how contemporary American society thinks about cities, and argues that, ultimately, despite the ever-increasing virtualization of day-to-day life, the obliteration of locality is never complete. There always remains some “here,” if only deep beneath the “urbane disguises,” in the interstices of social activity, in the contradictions of experience and in the residues of individual and collective memory.

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Is Atlanta really the "New York of the South"? Does it have a World Trade Center? A stock exchange? An urban center? Why not? Anthropologist Charles Rutheiser looks at why the city never attained traditional urbanity in this accessible, well-researched historical study. He implicates politicians, economics and a racialized topography for the city's failure to thrive, showing that outlying white areas developed at the expense of the city's black core. Imagineering Atlanta steps around the hype of the 1996 Olympics and Atlanta's characteristic boosterism to make a case that is poignant and convincing.

From Publishers Weekly:

Recalling one meeting of Atlanta civic and business leaders, Rutheiser recounts that many "had recently returned from their month-long stay in Barcelona?where they had been honored guests at the Olympic Games?with the mildly horrifying awareness of Atlanta's lack of 'traditional urbanity.'" Which, as anyone who has spent any time there, would recognize both in the lack a vital urban center, and in the presence of a decidedly provincial boosterism. There is little boosterism in this excellent, accessible, well-researched and highly critical study of the history of Atlanta's image and its reality. Starting from the hype (Atlanta as "the gateway to the South"; the "New York of the South"; "the city too busy to hate"; "Black Mecca"; "the world's next great international city"), anthropologist Rutheiser provides a clear step-by-step understanding of how politics, economics and a "racialized topography" developed Atlanta's outlying (read white) areas at the expense of its inner (read black) core. He also discusses this summer's Olympics, which many Atlantans recognize as a chance, perhaps the last chance, to fill in the hole in its center. At the time this book went to print, the prognosis didn't look promising. It seemed unlikely that the building would substantially benefit the city's core, likely that Atlanta taxpayers will be picking up at least part of the tab and, more insidiously, that the sometimes uneasy compromise of black political leadership and local biracial business leadership that has been evolving since the early 1970s, may be overshadowed by increasingly powerful national or multinational corporations.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Verso Books, United Kingdom, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the age of decentralization, instant communications, and the subordination of locality to the demands of a globalizing market, contemporary cities have taken on place-less or a-geographic characters. They have become phantasmagorical landscapes. Atlanta, argues Charles Rutheiser, is in many ways paradigmatic of this generic urbanism. As such, it provides a fertile ground for investigating the play of culture, power and place within a non-place urban realm . Rutheiser uses the mobilization for the 1996 Olympics to talk about the uneven development of Atlanta s landscape. Like other cities lacking any natural advantages, Atlanta s reputation and built form have been regularly reconfigured by generations of entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists and assorted visionaries to create a service-oriented information city of global reach. Borrowing a term from Walt Disney, Rutheiser refers to these successive waves of organized and systematic promotion as linked, but not always well-co-ordinated acts of urban imagineering . Focusing on the historic core of the metropolitan area, Rutheiser shows how Atlanta has long been both a test bed for federal urban renewal and a playground for private capital. The city provides an object lesson in internal colonization and urban underdevelopment. Yet, however illustrative of general trends, Atlanta also represents a unique conjunction of universals and particulars; it exemplifies a reality quite unlike either New York or Los Angeles - two cities to which it has often been compared. This book thus adds an important case study to the emerging discourse on contemporary urbanism. It goes beyond providing another account of uneven development and the theme-parking of a North American city: Rutheiser reflects on how contemporary American society thinks about cities, and argues that, ultimately, despite the ever-increasing virtualization of day-to-day life, the obliteration of locality is never complete. There always remains some here , if only deep beneath the urbane disguises , in the interstices of social activity, in the contradictions of experience and in the residues of individual and collective memory. Bookseller Inventory # AAJ9781859841457

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