Protecting Suburban America : Gentrification, Advocacy and the Historic Imaginary book cover
1st Edition

Protecting Suburban America
Gentrification, Advocacy and the Historic Imaginary

ISBN 9780367668433
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

Protecting Suburban America explores the dynamics and conflicts inherent in preserving historic twentieth-century suburban landscapes in America.Bridging architecture, anthropology, planning, and urban studies, its unique approach combines a study of historic preservation with multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork, to shed fascinating light on issues of heritage, preservation, gentrification, class, ethnicity, and contested values in suburbia. These are subjects which reach far beyond the setting of the book’s focus in California to touch on topical debates in cities, suburbia, and gentrifying neighborhoods worldwide.At the heart of the book is a detailed comparative ethnography of preservation practices and the changing landscapes of five suburban cities, where affluent homeowners have begun to restore their early twentieth-century houses in neighborhoods once suffering from decline. Not every neighbor, however, shares the same aesthetic values, and complex dynamics can arise. The study compares experiences in five different cities, and in different long-term, immigrant, and gentrifying populations. Themes revealed include homeowner restoration practices, aesthetic contestations, local advocacy, and public policy, alongside an exploration of the social construction of the historic restoration process, and how homeowners construct ‘historical’ meaning in their homes and neighbourhoods. These are themes with consequences for national and global settings – of interest wherever contested preservation aesthetics and regulations are reshaping older residential neighbourhoods and their social dynamics.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Framing Preservation2. Discovering Material Agency: Making of the Preservation Homeowner3. Restoration Strategies: Imagining the Past and Reconstructing Historic Meaning4. History Preservation Cosmology: Municipal Regulations and City Dynamics5. Local Level Preservation and Exclusion: Traditional Elites6. Gentrification: Education, Reform and Advocacy7. Immigrant Challenges: Communicating Preservation Values Across the Cultural Divide in Alhambra8. Conclusion: Toward an Anthropology of SuburbiaBibliographyIndex

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Denise Lawrence-Zuniga is Professor of Architecture and a sociocultural anthropologist at the College of Environmental Design, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, USA.


"Protecting Suburban America: Gentrification, Advocacy, and the Historic Imaginary will undoubtedly take a prime spot on the bookshelves of both professional and grassroots preservationists ... as well as public historians, memory scholars, and cultural historians broadly conceived. Indeed, the ethnography alone makes it worthwhile, while the nuanced look at race and power will no doubt spark fruitful discussion among those who read and discuss it. - Heritage & SocietyThis comprehensive study of gentrification in California deftly exposes the persistent linkage between historic conservation and genealogical passion on the one hand and covert forms of social and ethnic exclusion on the other. It is a major contribution to our understanding of an increasingly common form of structural violence as well as of the surprisingly varied motives that drive the passion for the past. - Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University"