CPP Salon with Prof. Cameron McCarthy [video]

CPP Salons are envisioned as venues in which to discuss a wide range of issues in a relaxed atmosphere. We will be inviting scholars from a variety of disciplinary and experiential backgrounds to share ideas, texts, and artifacts with us in service of sparking generative dialogue and debate.

We were thrilled to have Prof. Cameron McCarthy as our inaugural salon speaker. He shared with us his in-process manuscript, “Race, Re-Spatialization and the Struggle Over the Iconography of the Global City.” (abstract of the paper below)

Watch video here:

Drawing on the insights of Walter Benjamin (“Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century”), David Harvey (Paris, Capital of Modernity), Saskia Sassen (Global Networks, Linked Cities), Aihwa Ong (Neoliberalism as Exception), and Gillian Rose (Visual Methodologies), Cameron McCarthy examines contemporary Chicago as a global city propelled by powerful logics of gentrification that are consequential to race, space and the struggle over the iconography of the present and the future. This struggle has a powerful material neoliberal dimension deeply imbricated in the new terms of race and society in the twenty-first century, an era of globalization. Analyzing key policy documents such as the Chicago Commercial Club’s Metropolis 20/20 and Left Behind; educational documents such as Renaissance 2010 of the Chicago Public Schools; the strategic planning documents of the University of Illinois at Urbana and Chicago; the metro maps of the Chicago Transit System and the public service announcements of the Chicago Division of Culture; and the websites of The Chicago Housing Authority and Legends South (a mix-income development project that has replaced the now demolished Robert Taylor Homes Housing Project), McCarthy assesses the city not as a fixed or bounded settlement or geographical location but as a powerful discursive field and mobilizing project of will formation integrating and disintegrating new resources, populations and identities in the contradictory and radically volatile environment of flexible and predatory capital (Sennett, 2006, 2008; Bauman, 2011). In this dynamic environment, race is deployed as a strategic multiculture for managing the rough edges of the transformation of the city from a localized, industrialized and administrative complex to a global formation foregrounding finance capital, tourism, gentrified construction and commercialized residential development. This mobilization of the city as a rejuvenated and revivified complex of desires and will formation—appropriating multiculture as a strategy of negotiating the powerful contradictions of its globalizing economies—is not only articulated to the bounded settlement of the city but is applied to the context of education in the reorganization of knowledge and the institutional restructuring of the urban university as it transforms itself into the new international “knowledge city.” The new knowledge city has its birthing in a time of fiscal woes and the rise of a narrow-minded, administrative instrumentalism that champions the universalization of the enterprise ethic as the salve to financial woes precipitated by state disinvestment in public education. Fundamental to this incorporation of the global city is a struggle over iconography and a war over signs prosecuted principally on black and brown bodies a la Fergusson, New York City and Chicago among others. This presentation is committed to an understanding of this new representational and material environment in which the city is both a venue for the mobilization of new sources of immaterial value within capitalism as well as a site of the playing out of some of most deeply held ideological fantasies and commitments regarding education and social living in a time of globalizing transformations of the built environment and the organization of knowledge in the life world.

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