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Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination

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May Joseph

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Duke University Press - Fluid New York

About this product Product Information Hurricane Sandy was a fierce demonstration of the ecological vulnerability of New York, a city of islands. Yet the storm also revealed the resilience of a metropolis that has started during the past decade to reckon with its aqueous topography.


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In Fluid New York , May Joseph describes the many ways that New York, and New Yorkers, have begun to incorporate the city's archipelago ecology into plans for a livable and sustainable future. For instance, by cleaning its tidal marshes, the municipality has turned a previously dilapidated waterfront into a space for public leisure and rejuvenation.

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Joseph considers New York's relation to the water that surrounds and defines it. Her reflections reach back to the city's heyday as a world-class port-a past embodied in a Dutch East India Company cannon recently unearthed from the rubble at the World Trade Center site-and they encompass the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in They suggest that New York's future lies in the reclamation of its great water resources-for artistic creativity, civic engagement, and ecological sustainability.

The book will be welcomed by scholars of urban studies especially those interested in cultural studies, citizenship studies and urban environmental history. For scholars interested in how the environment shapes and is shaped by urban life and culture, Joseph's book deepens our understanding. This vast book and its singular story reveal the pleasures of cosmopolitan belonging, as well as the difficult measures that must be taken to preserve urban settings and citizens on a warming planet.

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She demonstrates that environmental challenges bring people together, no matter how disparate and apparently divided the population of a large city may seem to be. May Joseph's New York is characterized by the radical implosion and intensification of global difference. Her narrative consistently gives voice to people who have always been present in New York but not often heard from. Joseph expresses both affection and concern for her city, highlighting both its creative potential and provincial hubris it must outgrow. Based on rich ethnographic material, May Joseph develops a persuasive vision of New York as a city with an emerging culture of 'fluid urbanism.

This is wonderful, vivid, and insightful work.

Show More Show Less. This is a thoughtful book whose key metaphor is water: Joseph is persuasive that although New Yorkers were unprepared for superstorm Sandy, water serves to link "public space and private lives" in ways that "defining cartographic lines do not.

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Arab grocers, South Asian cabbies, Caribbean nurses and doorman, African merchants. Joseph shows how New York City is a "marine biosphere"; reading Dutch maps from the 17th century, she suggests how the environment has been shaped by water, and how the "language of the street" discussed by Jane Jacobs recreates "transcontinental air and sea routes.

FLUID NEW YORK: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination

She relies heavily not only on maps, but on Russell Shorto's popular history The Island at the Center of the World , and also on popular protests for Tibet and Falun Gong, in an effort to demonstrate the performative aspect of her argument. Several of her ideas are stated flatly without interrogation, and this tendency becomes frustrating for the reader; for example, "Manhattan's density deters any effort at segregation. Its irrepressible flows from the streets resist stagnation. It's true we have a diverse city, but the segregated schools, for example, occur with Manhattan's density.

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