Protecting Suburban America Gentrification, Advocacy and the Historic Imaginary

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 4/21/2016
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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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.

Author Biography

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

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Framing Preservation
2. Discovering Material Agency: Making of the Preservation Homeowner
3. Restoration Strategies: Imagining the Past and Reconstructing Historic Meaning
4. History Preservation Cosmology: Municipal Regulations and City Dynamics
5. Local Level Preservation and Exclusion: Traditional Elites
6. Gentrification: Education, Reform and Advocacy
7. Immigrant Challenges: Communicating Preservation Values Across the Cultural Divide in Alhamra
8. Conclusion: Toward an Anthropology of Suburbia

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