Urban Utopia or Luxury City?

Urban Utopia or Luxury City?

Talk @ The Change You Want To See Gallery, August 24, 7:30 – 9:30pm

With Miriam Greenberg

In her talk, Miriam Greenberg analyzes the use of city marketing alongside redevelopment by the Bloomberg administration, and the peculiar type of urban commodity this has helped produce.  Under Bloomberg, there has been a significant increase in the scale and scope of city marketing, which now includes year-round global operations alongside hundreds of local campaigns aimed at residents and business.  This has coincided with the Mayor’s equally ambitious economic development plan for New York.  Informally dubbed “luxury city,” this is a plan for high-end commercial and residential development throughout all five boroughs.

Yet interestingly, “luxury city” is nowhere to be found in official marketing. Rather, in a style that harkens back to the 1970’s-era “I Love NY” campaign, and that taps into post-crisis desires and anxieties, current efforts are profoundly utopian. They emphasize New York’s diversity, creativity, and unity, and present the city as an open, post-class terrain in which all may participate.
These themes are backed up by user-friendly and extremely popular tech services-from user-driven websites to the 311 help line-all powered by Bloomberg terminals. How do we square this utopian messaging with the reality of the luxury city? If the former celebrates diversity and participation, the latter shows the social exclusion these terms can facilitate in the current period.

About Miriam Greenberg
Miriam Greenberg is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz. Greenberg’s work lies at the intersection of urban studies, media studies, and political economy.  She is the author of Branding New York: How a City in Crisis Was Sold to the World (Routledge, 2008) and the forthcoming Crisis Cities: Disaster and Redevelopment in New York and New Orleans (Oxford).


August 24, 2010

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