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Benjamin Looker

Bio: Benjamin Looker is an academic researcher from Saint Louis University. The author has contributed to research in topics: Pupil & Democracy. The author has an hindex of 4, co-authored 7 publications receiving 55 citations.

Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This essay sketches the rise of a Popular Front-inflected vision of the U.S. city neighborhood's meaning and worth, and explores the conflicted mode of liberal nationalism that took the polyglot city neighborhood as emblem, which emerged more fully as the provisional wartime consensus dissolved.
Abstract: This essay sketches the rise of a Popular Front-inflected vision of the U.S. city neighborhood's meaning and worth, a communitarian ideal that reached its zenith during World War II before receding in the face of cold-war anxieties, postwar suburbanization, and trepidation over creeping blight. During the war years, numerous progressives interpreted the ethnic-accented urban neighborhood as place where national values became most concrete, casting it as a uniquely American rebuff to the fascist drive for purity. Elaborations appeared in the popular press's celebratory cadences, in writings by educators and social scientists such as Rachel DuBois and Louis Wirth, and in novels, plays, and musicals by Sholem Asch, Louis Hazam, Kurt Weill, Langston Hughes, and others. Each offered new ways for making sense of urban space, yet their works reveal contradictions and uncertainties, particularly in an inability to meld competing impulses toward assimilation and particularism. Building on the volume's theme "The Arts in Place," this essay examines these texts as a collective form of imaginative "placemaking." It explores the conflicted mode of liberal nationalism that took the polyglot city neighborhood as emblem. And it outlines the fissures embedded in that vision, which emerged more fully as the provisional wartime consensus dissolved.

14 citations

Book
22 Oct 2015
TL;DR: A Nation of Neighborhoods as mentioned in this paper investigates the cultural, social, and political complexities of the idea of "neighborhood" in postwar America and how Americans grappled with vast changes in their urban spaces from World War II to the Reagan era.
Abstract: Despite the pundits who have written its epitaph and the latter-day refugees who have fled its confines for the half-acre suburban estate, the city neighborhood has endured as an idea central to American culture. In A Nation of Neighborhoods, Benjamin Looker presents us with the city neighborhood as both an endless problem and a possibility. Looker investigates the cultural, social, and political complexities of the idea of "neighborhood" in postwar America and how Americans grappled with vast changes in their urban spaces from World War II to the Reagan era. In the face of urban decline, competing visions of the city neighborhood's significance and purpose became proxies for broader debates over the meaning and limits of American democracy. By studying the way these contests unfolded across a startling variety of genres-Broadway shows, radio plays, urban ethnographies, real estate documents, and even children's programming-Looker shows that the neighborhood ideal has functioned as a central symbolic site for advancing and debating theories about American national identity and democratic practice.

14 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The radical politics of neighborhood autonomy that characterized the utopianist vanguard of the broader 1970s neighborhoods movement has been studied by urban scholars as mentioned in this paper, but to date, urban scholars have given little attention to the radical politics.
Abstract: To date, urban scholars have given little attention to the radical politics of neighborhood autonomy that characterized the utopianist vanguard of the broader 1970s neighborhoods movement. Focusing...

11 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The role of LaClede Town, a nationally lauded housing development in St Louis (USA), in metropolitan and national contests over race, segregation and urban equity from the 1960s to 1990s is analyzed in this article.
Abstract: This article analyses the role of LaClede Town, a nationally lauded housing development in St Louis (USA), in metropolitan and national contests over race, segregation and urban equity from the 1960s to 1990s. Built on the site of a massive slum-clearance project, the federally supported complex gained widespread fame for its startlingly heterogeneous racial mix and ostensibly colour-blind lifestyles. As the article argues, the quasi-utopian language applied to the neighbourhood illustrates the contours and limitations of a 1960s racial liberalism that sought to overcome structural inequalities through face-to-face neighbourly contact. Yet the project's 1990s demise signals that older ideology's supersession by a newly dominant urban neoliberalism.

1 citations


Cited by
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the history of relationships within and between different groups in the United States, and the complexities of those relations are explored, including gender, sexuality, religion, nation, and class.
Abstract: MC 281 is the second in the required sophomore sequence for Social Relations and Policy. In this course, we will explore the interactions and experiences between and among various groups in American history. We will consider how Americans both defended and contested prevailing definitions of fitness for citizenship and inclusion in the political process and American life, and how groups sought to gain access to social and political equality. This course focuses on the history of relationships within and between different groups in the United States, and explores the complexities of those relations. Rarely centered solely on race or ethnicity, such interactions were also affected by gender, sexuality, religion, nation, and class. We will also explore the shifting definitions of race and ethnicity. Students will analyze not only the experiences of the different groups, but also the connections between them to assess the larger dynamics and their implications for public policy.

766 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors present a theoretical framework and analytic strategy for the study of place as a fundamental context in criminology, with a focus on neighborhood effects, and elaborate core principles and guiding hypotheses for five problems: 1) legacies of inequality and developmental neighborhood effects; 2) race, crime, and new diversity; 3) cognition and context, above all the social meaning of disorder; 4) the measurement and sources of collective efficacy in a cosmopolitan world; and 5) higher order structures beyond the neighborhood that arise in complex urban systems.
Abstract: I present a theoretical framework and analytic strategy for the study of place as a fundamental context in criminology, with a focus on neighborhood effects. My approach builds on the past 15 years of research from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and from a recent book unifying the results. I argue that “ecometrics” can be applied at multiple scales, and I elaborate core principles and guiding hypotheses for five problems: 1) legacies of inequality and developmental neighborhood effects; 2) race, crime, and the new diversity; 3) cognition and context, above all the social meaning of disorder; 4) the measurement and sources of collective efficacy in a cosmopolitan world; and 5) higher order structures beyond the neighborhood that arise in complex urban systems. Although conceptually distinct, these hard problems are interdependent and ultimately linked to a frontier in criminology: contextual causality.

190 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: Bargaining with reading habit is no need as discussed by the authors, reading is not kind of something sold that you can take or not, it is a thing that will change your life to life better.
Abstract: Bargaining with reading habit is no need. Reading is not kind of something sold that you can take or not. It is a thing that will change your life to life better. It is the thing that will give you many things around the world and this universe, in the real world and here after. As what will be given by this middletown in transition a study in cultural conflicts, how can you bargain with the thing that has many benefits for you?

147 citations