Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City

Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City

by Mike Davis, Roman de la Campa
     
 
Is the capital of Latin America a small island at the mouth of the Hudson River?Will California soon hold the balance of power in Mexican national politics? Will Latinos reinvigorate the U.S. labor movement? These are some of the provocative questions that Mike Davis explores in this fascinating account of the Latinization of the American urban landscape. As he

Overview

Is the capital of Latin America a small island at the mouth of the Hudson River?Will California soon hold the balance of power in Mexican national politics? Will Latinos reinvigorate the U.S. labor movement? These are some of the provocative questions that Mike Davis explores in this fascinating account of the Latinization of the American urban landscape. As he forcefully shows, this is a demographic and cultural revolution with extraordinary implications. With Spanish-surnames increasing five times faster than the general population, salsa is becoming the predominant ethnic rhythm (and flavor) of contemporary city life. In Los Angeles, Houston, San Antonio, and (shortly) Dallas, Latinos outnumber non-Hispanic whites; in New York, San Diego and Phoenix, they outnumber blacks. According to the Bureau of the Census, Latinos will supply fully two thirds of the nation's population growth between now and the middle of the 21st century when nearly 100 million Americans will boast Latin American ancestry. Davis focuses on the great drama of how Latinos are attempting to translate their urban demographic ascendancy into effective social power. Pundits are now unanimous that Spanish-surname voters are the sleeping giant of US politics. Though the overall vote in the 1996 elections declined significantly, the Latino share rose by a spectacular 16%. Yet electoral mobilization alone is unlikely to redress the increasing income and opportunity gaps between urban Latinos and suburban non-Hispanic whites. Thus in Los Angeles and elsewhere, the militant struggles of Latino workers and students are reinventing the American left. Magical Urbanism is essential reading for anyone who wants to grasp the future of urban America.

Editorial Reviews

Helen Silvis
[A]n important book about an ignored topic.
Willamette Week
Angela Garbes
A truly intelligent, interesting, and timely book.
Bookselling This Week
Susan Faludi
A rare combination of an author, Rachael Carson and Upton Sinclair all in one.
Andrew Ross
Fans of Mike Davis's slash-and-burn prose and take-no-prisoners credo will not be disappointed by Magical Urbanism. —Bookforum
Times Literary Supplement
[A] lively, trenchant inquiry into a demographic phenomenon of great importance.
Santa Fe New Mexican
Workers of the world, eat your carne asada, then smash the state!
Washington Post Book World
This well-researched, well-written book is driven by powerful feelings of indignation at the hardships Latinos are suffering.
In These Times
Davis brings his characteristic analytical energy, eye for detail and exhaustive research to bear on an important phenomenon.
Library Journal
Around 1996, Latinos surpassed African Americans as the largest nonwhite group in the United States. What impact does the rise in the Latino population have on American society? Davis (Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster, Vintage, 1999) here presents a powerful, left-wing examination of this question. In 15 chapters, the author explores the social, economic, educational, racial, linguistic, legal, and demographic nature of Latino emergence in urban America. These elements point to the existence in the United States an international Latino community that contains aspects of American and Latin American culture. While Latino political and economic power has grown--especially in California, Florida, Texas, and New York--crime, poor educational and economic opportunities, and racism (as seen in white flight and the "English first" movement) continue to impede development. Davis's political manifesto stands as a powerful statement on modern America and is recommended for all libraries.--Stephen L. Hupp, Urbana Univ., OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Booknews
Davis, an independent author and social activist, provides an account of the Latinization of the American city. He explores how Latinos are attempting to shape their dramatic demographic growth into effective social power, coordinating worker and student movements that Davis argues are reinventing the American left. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Another contemporary classic of urban studies from Davis (Ecology of Fear, not reviewed), herald of the good and bad—but mostly bad—times ahead. Davis argues that Latinos are poised to be the largest, most important, and most overlooked minority in US cities. Citing numerous studies, Davis shows that immigrant Latinos and Hispanic-Americans are well on their way to surpassing African-Americans as the largest minority in the US, creating massive, $30-billion regional markets and revitalizing the cities they now call home. In Los Angeles Latinos tend to create parks in their neighborhoods (as opposed to the less centralized strip malls favored by old-guard developers). In New York they settle in the Bronx, following in the footsteps of the Irish and Italian immigrants who came there a century before. Davis is at his best when he describes the overlooked consequences of this migration. He argues that many Latinos experience "syncretic" existences, meaning they live simultaneously in the US and in their homelands. Here we discover a kind of magical urbanism: Indian tribes discussing important village business on conference call—one set of elders in Brooklyn, one in Mexico. But, despite these changes, Davis argues that the future of the Latinos (and therefore of the US) is filled with conflict. Like other minorities, Latinos have suffered as the manufacturing base of large US cities has disappeared overseas. Unlike other minorities, however, Latinos have not regained the ground they lost in the past few decades. In 1959, US-born Mexicans in Southern California earned 19 percent less than non-Hispanic whites; in 1990, that gap had widened to 31 percent.Disinvestmentin big city school systems, and a lack of bilingual education have reduced Latinos' chances at breaking the cycle of dependence. Davis, a good Marxist, ends his apocalyptic message on a hopeful note, however: he points to new, Latino-led union efforts as the best agents for change. A wake-up call for anyone who cares about the future of American cities.

Bookforum
Fans of Mike Davis's slash-an-burn prose and take-no-prisoners credo will not be disappointed ... His new book about citified Latinos serves up more helpings of the elegant muckraking that thrilled the readers of City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear.

— Andrew Ross

San Francisco Bay Guardian

A non-romantic, optimistic view of the role Latinos will play in revitalizing dead urban areas and a dying American Left.

Andrew Ross - Bookforum
“Fans of Mike Davis's slash-and-burn prose and take-no-prisoners credo will not be disappointed ... His new book about citified Latinos serves up more helpings of the elegant muckraking that thrilled the readers of City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear.”
Jon Wiener - In These Times

Ricky Martin, Sammy Sosa, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera—something is happening to American popular culture. Mike Davis pulls together the startling facts, identifies the underlying trends and ... brings his characteristic energy, eye for detail and exhaustive research to bear on an important phenomenon that remains mostly unexplored.

From the Publisher
“Fans of Mike Davis’s slash-an-burn prose and take-no-prisoners credo will not be disappointed ... His new book about citified Latinos serves up more helpings of the elegant muckraking that thrilled the readers of City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear.”—Andrew Ross, Bookforum

“Ricky Martin, Sammy Sosa, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera—something is happening to American popular culture. Mike Davis pulls together the startling facts, identifies the underlying trends and ... brings his characteristic energy, eye for detail and exhaustive research to bear on an important phenomenon that remains mostly unexplored.”—Jon Wiener, In These Times

“Another contemporary classic of urban studies from Davis. A wake-up call for anyone who cares about the future of American cities.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A non-romantic, optimistic view of the role Latinos will play in revitalizing dead urban areas and a dying American Left.”—San Francisco Bay Guardian

“This well-researched, well-written book is driven by powerful feelings of indignation at the hardships Latinos are suffering in the United States today.”—Washington Post Book World

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781859847718
Publisher:
Verso Books
Publication date:
06/17/2000
Series:
Haymarket Series
Pages:
190
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Mike Davis is the author of several books including Planet of Slums, City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear, Late Victorian Holocausts, and Magical Urbanism. He was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. He lives in Papa’aloa, Hawaii.

Michael Sprinker was Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His Imaginary Relations: Aesthetics and Ideology in the History of Historical Materialism and History and Ideology in Proust are also published by Verso. Together with Mike Davis, he founded Verso’s Haymarket Series and guided it until his death in 1999.

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