Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles

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Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles

Janet L. Abu-Lughod

Publisher: Oxford University PressFormat: Hardcover

Janet Abu-Lughod for the first time weaves together detailed narratives of major riots with the changing contexts in which they have occurred to show how urban space, political regimes, and economic conditions—not simply an abstract “race conflict”—all structure the nature and extent of urban rebellions. New York's race riots, for instance, have been shorter, more confined, less destructive and less lethal, than those in Chicago and Los Angeles. Abu-Lughod attributes these differences to social diversity, lack of segregation, and a political system that responds to grievances. This book compares six major race riots that occurred in the three largest American metropolitan centers over the course of the twentieth century: in Chicago in 1919 and in 1968; in New York in 1935/1943 and in 1964; and in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1992. Abu-Lughod draws upon archival research, primary and secondary sources, and field work to reconstruct events—especially for the 1964 Harlem riot and Chicago's 1968 riots where no single study currently exists.By focusing on the mechanisms of exclusion and marginalization of African Americans and successful common trends in fostering racial harmony in each city, this work points the way towards alleviating existing and potentially mounting ethnic and racial tensions brought on by globally influenced changes in the economy and demographics of major American cities. Sadly, the author concludes that outbreaks of racial violence may again occur in major urban centers, and foresees a “tectonic” shift from white/black violence to ethnic competition and conflict between poor blacks and incoming Latinos, especially along shared social and physical boundaries.

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