Category: Reading Analysis

Reading Analysis 4

“Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic”

In part three of City Rhetoric by David Fleming, the author begins to argue how history of segregation, urban fencing and contemporary population demographics make it hard to promote common places and governed states that dramatically break the troubled past of this particular neighborhood and is capable of greater involvement in the multicultural global economy (Fleming, Loc. 2625). More accurately the author states that we need to find a way, “to encourage participation by ordinary people in the self-determination of their own communities but within a context that forces them to work with others very different from themselves” (Loc. 2625). The author, specifically to chapter eight, breaks away from stating historic facts of social segregation and urban exclusion in the city of Chicago, to state how the city specifically those of the South Side of the city, the black belt, to how the current state of the city won’t allow improvement for those who suffer from these devastating effects. The author questions whether the understanding and facts stated in parts one and two of the book might help us attain information even improve our understanding, theories, practices, and pedagogues of public life (Loc. 2640).

We learn that the idea of a common place is much more than just physical in today’s globalized world, we now live tied together by ideas, shared values, and shared knowledge. The surroundings of our upbringings and the built environments to which we call home teach us that, “place matters, and this is as true for rhetoric as for education and employment” (Loc.2650). We have been led to believe that the environment is of complete irrelevance because we have thought of “man” as, in essence, a godlike creature: self-sufficient, self-governed, and self motivating, although somewhat accurate, the author challenges that our built environment our place of origin matters, and is true to all aspects of access to education and labor that allows individuals to get ahead in society. Today’s largest issues, particularly in the United States, is the history of racial segregation and clustering, which leads to ghettos and creates distinct, not only physical, but cultural backgrounds as well. Indirectly cultural clash has caused Physical Marginalization which is both a cause and effect of social, economic, and political Marginalization (Loc.2724). David Fleming is leading our understanding to how we are indoctrinated to believe our built environment affects our role in society as purely self driven, and self chosen, to actually realizing that where we live, might have actually physical and intellectual limitations, that dictates our role in the commonwealth.

Understanding that we are strongly influenced from our physical and cultural environments, we learn that we fall into similarity with the people in our communities. We house ourselves in areas with people that share our same interests, ideas, and culture. Moreover the author poses a compelling question: is it possible in today’s United States, a patchwork of diversity imbued with an equally incongruent set of ideologies, for citizens to prosper mutually?



In part one of, City Rhetoric, by David Fleming, we are introduced to what a “true U.S. Citizen” is and how through history of race, gender, and economic background takes importance in determining a full “U.S. Citizen. Fleming argues that individuality is the base to democracy, without conflicting points of view and differences in each of the individuals backgrounds there is no true beauty to democracy. However U.S. history shows us that, “ in the domain of the political, people do not face each other as abstractions but as politically interested and politically determined persons”(Fleming, Loc.369). These limitations on abstractions produced by individuality has caused democracy to create boundaries between equal people but separating those that are “superior” in certain respects (Loc.369).
“Ghetto” the first chapter in the second part of, City Rhetoric, goes in depth how these boundaries of race, specifically to the African Americans who migrated during the late 19th and all of the 20th century to Chicago, Illinois. Boundaries created through intense rioting, violence, and chaos against the Black race, in a state who’s first settler was a merchant, son of a Haitian slave woman and a French merchant, Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable. In recent U.S. history we have seen that racial segregation has been a long lasting battle for minorities to overcome, and even though after the civil rights movement, tensions of racism still shape our societies today. There was a time were there was, “Frenchmen in the village who had fought with Napoleon at Jena and Waterloo, Yankees who had been with Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, and Indians…who had fought alongside the legendary Tecumseh…. At the Sauga- nash of every color and class were welcome; and whisky, song and dance were the great democratizers”(Fleming, Loc. 951). The settlement which once welcomed all class, culture and races at the beginning of the 19th century, had racial border forced by violence and hostility against the African American communities that started to create the black belt of Chicago, on the South Side, after a hundred years of strong black presence in the city, by 1908 black populations were gradually becoming confined to a small number of areas, were housing conditions were amongst the worst in the city (Loc.977)
The creation of divided neighborhoods in Chicago through qualities of Race, condensed the Black population of the city into terrible housing conditions that led to the creation of the “American Ghettos”. By 1923 the African American communities were so condensed that the residents of the south side paid more for rent than whites because of the housing shortage in their part of the city (Loc.1027). African Americans didn’t have to relocate just once in the history of the city. After World War Two there was another great migration of African American veterans that returned to the South and couldn’t find decent lives enduring harsh racial resentment, because of the South’s history. Blacks suffered from, “the making of the second ghetto” as they succumbed to rapid, “racial succession” white violence, urban renewal, and public housing was creating enclaves of black populations (Loc.1076).
“Ghetto” is the first stepping stone into the Authors true nature with the subject of Racial Seclusion in the history of Chicago. The in depth study of how racial segregation, which led to violence, and the establishment of island communities of blacks, gives us an understanding how less entitled citizens are obligated through force and physical boundaries to within their own communities fight against each other to survive and prosper in the United States.

Reading Analysis 2

Sarah Schindler, different to Flemming, argues in her Journal, Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment, the actual physical limitations and restrictions between race and social classes, that create the culture, scene, and governance of a “Space” to which we refer to as communities, neighborhoods, cities, etc. Schindler focuses on the building of railroads, metros, and highways as a way to describe governance injustices caused to lower income people or individuals of specific race, to which the prominent rich white families decided to stay away from.
Using many cities as examples, however for the sake of argument let’s focus on Manhattan, how she uses the flow and route of traffic in the city to demonstrate how exit routes of a highway push people away from wealthy neighborhoods, and how one way routes are designed specifically to move “non-desirables”from one place to another. This, therefore, creating districts within the city of Manhattan, or “social-zones” as i like to call it, (Upper East, Upper West, Midtown, Harlem) that specifically locate certain groups of people with their respected social, economic, and ethnically background.
The Authors description of the actual physical space, and use of infrastructure to create the groups of people that share the same “background” is astonishingly accurate. While reading the reality in her argument is quite impossible to ignore. Knowing my way around NY City,(Considering myself a sort of New Yorker, since it was part of my childhood quite often) ignoring her description of how traffic is specifically designed to keep people within their same social backgrounds, seems to be very very accurate, hope on a cab from Columbus Circle, 60th st and head for the Meatpacking district, look out the window, notice the change…

Reading Analysis 1

The City Rhetoric, by David Flemmming, part one, takes us back to the beginning when cities started to form and how humans came up with the most efficient way of governing and ruling these “Spaces” of human society, culture, and governance. Understanding the basics of why people migrate to where they do and how the size and dimension of these spaces determined how people, as “individuals” rule each other, and how the idea of individuality, is what allows this beautiful democracy to happen. What Flemming, however, is looking to decried is how in a contemporary world, the challenge of Globalization and interconnectivity, challenge this idea, and that the death of the individual can be the death of our democratic governance. He also argues the most efficient sizes of cities, districts, and metropolis, in order to rule individuals of a democratic nation.
Taking us back to the basic principles of Political Philosophy, Flemming uses ideas of Plato and Aristotle to demonstrate that in a City the most efficient, and true way to rule is with a population of, “50,000-100,000” citizens. Given that the larger societies become the harder it is to revive the idea of the “individual”. Cities that go over this population, can no longer have a fair and true governance. Individual vote will dissapear, and society, which is made up of individuals, becomes a sort of unit filled with a homogeneuos group of people.
In all Flemming argues many different ideas on how cities form and how their physical and social aspect creates culture, social classes, and governance in cities. Flemming could be compared to Aristotle’s Politics, emphasizing on the idea of individuality and how this creates a solid foundation to guiding a community of individuals. If we loose the idea of individuality, and true sense of what makes us who we are we loose true direction of honest and efficient Governance. More to with the actual contents of a “Space” Flemming argues above physical boundries, he uses historic evidence from cities like detroit, and Chicago to demonstrate how migration, and perception of all individuals create a sort of mental boundries which from governance within Communities for the better or worse.