Pre-meeting Qs from students for the Nov 7 class meeting
Is it possible to create inclusion policies that are responsive to specific challenges faced by specific groups without reproducing essentialist and stigmatizing ideas about ‘the other’, which paradoxically defeats the initial purpose?
On Kern, Sex and the Revitalized City Chapters 3-5
In Kern’s Chapter 3, “Under Construction,” we see a discussion about condominiums and how community is constructed. We see how many new condominiums offer community spaces which some people see as an attempt to make up for small apartment sizes whereas others see it as an outlet for people to get to know each other within the building. We have spoken a lot in class about the idea of community and how it is created within different neighbourhoods. How do you see the public-private community spaces in condominiums? Do you think they are beneficial to residential bonding or just purely a sales point?
Throughout the text, access to suitable transit is brought up as a key factor in why many women were living in the downtown core and as a resource that contributed to their feelings of independent and control. The author acknowledges that choosing to not have a car and use these resources is a privilege for many of these women. I thought this was interesting as the concept of building condos around accessible transit is something that I don’t recognize as being a priority in Vancouver, and that relying on buses and trains as a main form of transportation is in fact not a privilege but a lower-status symbol. In a newer city such as Vancouver, do you think this will shift, that Vancouver’s transit in the main city and suburbs will grow into being an ideal/priorty for high-income/independent condo/home owners? Do you think it already is? Or will we as a city continue to acknowledge driving a vehicle as a main source of mobility?
In her study, Kern (2010) discusses how developers in Toronto market condominiums to women as their key demographic by creating a sense of ‘community.’ Jillian, a woman from Kern’s study, expresses how living in a condominium “is an amazing opportunity to meet the man of your dreams or whatever. Just meeting new people, our entire building is open to that”(Kern, 2010, p. 112). However, despite the former positive response, Kern believes that social networks built through condominium ownership reflect a very narrow conception of what truly is a ‘community.’ Do you agree with Kern’s argument that developers target specifically women when they are building condominiums? Do you think living in a condominium increases your likelihood to meet friends/ partners that you share common interests compared to living in a suburban single family home? Or do you believe the concept of ‘community’ within condominiums is simply a façade created by marketing teams?
On van Eijk, “Exclusionary policies are not just about the ‘neoliberal city’: A critique of theories of urban revanchism and the case of Rotterdam”
In Van Eijk’s article, the idea of Urban Revanchism is discussed and critiqued. Specifically, the author argues that urban policies aimed at goals of “integration” such as mixed communities and citizenship actually inherently exclude people (par.8). I absolutely agreed with the argument that these policies stem not only from neoliberalist thought (par.4), but from anxieties surrounding national unity, social order, and safety. However, I struggled with some thoughts that complicate the matter for myself and perhaps for other people who are unsure about inclusionary policies. If we were to adopt multicultural policies that encouraged people to occupy the spaces in the city that they choose, which would often likely be in areas where similar people lived, would we not still have the same issues of “same” vs. “other” (par.26) that we have now, if not an intensified version? Wouldn’t a person occupying space in the area that was an obvious “other” to the neighbourhood culture still be seen as a threat to the social order? Furthermore, wouldn’t this run the risk of the majority making negative connotations between the issues in an area and the certain group (whether cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic or otherwise) that primarily occupies that place? Is it even possible to think of concepts like unity or safety without human nature forming some sort of “other” that will be excluded?
On Driskell, Fox & Kudva: “Growing up in the new New York: youth space, citizenship, and community change in a hyperglobal city”
Driskell, Fox & Kudva (2008) argued that with the effects of globalization, we must begin to re-examine and deconstruct the current definitions of what constitutes immigration, citizenship and identity. What, in your opinion, changes these definitions? Why are the current views on immigration and citizenship problematic in their role of shaping identities?
On Bosco, Aitken & Herman: “Women and children in a neighborhood advocacy group: engaging community and refashioning citizenship at the United States–Mexico border”
I would like to examine the concept ‘differently equal’ that surfaced in the Bosco, Aitken & Herman paper. Doesn’t saying that having different abilities and backgrounds categorize a person into being different types of equal? Isn’t equality a blanket statement given to all people no matter their ethnicity, gender, or economic status? This term is a blanket contradiction – ‘different’ cancels out ‘equal’.
If having children help translate for their parents in a variety of situations is so controversial and people are so terribly opposed, should there not be alternatives provided to immigrant families in a compassionate manner to aid them in this adjustment process? It seems extremely backwards to start throwing bills around stating English is the sole language of a state in which Latino immigrant families uphold the California state economy. If individuals and communities fail to meet these requirements they become void and are denied citizenship as well as the ability to seek the resources needed to advance by this standard. I use citizenship as a liberal definition of access, sense of community and belonging, political agency and economic prosperity. [break] Are we so misguided to believe that new immigrants do not wish to access all those resources afforded to the so called good English speaking Americans? One example against child translators stated that it would be inappropriate for children to communicate a terminal medical diagnosis to their parent. This translates in my mind as immigrant parents cannot distinguish what is or is not appropriate for their children. Do we really think in that given situation parents would not seek alternatives to protect the emotional well-being of their children? Shock and awe is definitely a tactic here. Further, if this is actually the case how sad is it that families are being forced to use their children to communicate such emotional affairs because there are no alternatives. [break] There is this very ethnocentric sociopolitical mindset that implies guardians, particularly mothers from cultures outside the white white West have inadequate parenting abilities and tend to sacrifice their children for family gains. This leads to a sort of Western crusade against ethnic diversity in the name of protecting the child. So what are the objectives here? [break] Lastly, given the Spanish speaking population in California and the national political and economic backbone of the Latino and Mexican immigrant population would it not seem logical to find effective alternatives, such as multilingual medical centers, government funded translating organizations for non-English speaking immigrants, language centers directed by Latino persons, on site translators in all social service spaces? None of this seems terribly difficult considering most of it is happening in different forms anyway by the efforts of Latino communities and multilingual people in different social agencies. [break] So, is the problem that government bodies are trying to save money and stick on Band Aid solutions? Are sociopolitical structures inherently racist? Or is the Latino-American population so underrepresented in government that these issues are simply forgotten? What’s missing here?