web site hit counter Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea

Availability: Ready to download

A five-hundred-year story of exclusion and containment, from the first Jewish ghetto to the present On March 29, 1516, the city council of Venice issued a decree forcing Jews to live in a closed quarter, il geto—named for the copper foundry that once occupied the area. The term stuck, and soon began its long and consequential history. In this sweeping account, Mitchell Dunei A five-hundred-year story of exclusion and containment, from the first Jewish ghetto to the present On March 29, 1516, the city council of Venice issued a decree forcing Jews to live in a closed quarter, il geto—named for the copper foundry that once occupied the area. The term stuck, and soon began its long and consequential history. In this sweeping account, Mitchell Duneier traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the sixteenth century and its revival by the Nazis to the present day. We meet pioneering black thinkers such as Horace Cayton, a graduate student whose work on the South Side of Chicago established a new paradigm for thinking about Northern racism and black poverty in the 1940s. We learn how the psychologist Kenneth Clark subsequently linked the slum conditions in Harlem with black powerlessness in the civil rights era, and we follow the controversy over Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on the black family. We see how the sociologist William Julius Wilson refocused the debate on urban America as the country retreated from racially specific remedies, and how the education reformer Geoffrey Canada sought to transform the lives of inner-city children in the ghetto. By expertly resurrecting the history of the ghetto from Venice to the present, Duneier’s Ghetto provides a remarkable new understanding of an age-old concept. He concludes that if we are to understand today’s ghettos, the Jewish and black ghettos of the past should not be forgotten.


Compare

A five-hundred-year story of exclusion and containment, from the first Jewish ghetto to the present On March 29, 1516, the city council of Venice issued a decree forcing Jews to live in a closed quarter, il geto—named for the copper foundry that once occupied the area. The term stuck, and soon began its long and consequential history. In this sweeping account, Mitchell Dunei A five-hundred-year story of exclusion and containment, from the first Jewish ghetto to the present On March 29, 1516, the city council of Venice issued a decree forcing Jews to live in a closed quarter, il geto—named for the copper foundry that once occupied the area. The term stuck, and soon began its long and consequential history. In this sweeping account, Mitchell Duneier traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the sixteenth century and its revival by the Nazis to the present day. We meet pioneering black thinkers such as Horace Cayton, a graduate student whose work on the South Side of Chicago established a new paradigm for thinking about Northern racism and black poverty in the 1940s. We learn how the psychologist Kenneth Clark subsequently linked the slum conditions in Harlem with black powerlessness in the civil rights era, and we follow the controversy over Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on the black family. We see how the sociologist William Julius Wilson refocused the debate on urban America as the country retreated from racially specific remedies, and how the education reformer Geoffrey Canada sought to transform the lives of inner-city children in the ghetto. By expertly resurrecting the history of the ghetto from Venice to the present, Duneier’s Ghetto provides a remarkable new understanding of an age-old concept. He concludes that if we are to understand today’s ghettos, the Jewish and black ghettos of the past should not be forgotten.

30 review for Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    Most Americans think of the ghetto in terms of the more recent definition in which poor Black people are relegated into specific areas where, because of poverty, the houses are dilapidated, people resort to selling drugs or engaging in prostitution (making the social atmosphere far less than ideal), and where legitimate businesses fail to thrive (because people are not wealthy enough to support those businesses in their area). However, the ghetto is a place where those in power relegate undesira Most Americans think of the ghetto in terms of the more recent definition in which poor Black people are relegated into specific areas where, because of poverty, the houses are dilapidated, people resort to selling drugs or engaging in prostitution (making the social atmosphere far less than ideal), and where legitimate businesses fail to thrive (because people are not wealthy enough to support those businesses in their area). However, the ghetto is a place where those in power relegate undesirables to a certain area to live, thus segregating them from the larger population. The ghetto dates back to at least the 1400s and was used to segregate Jews, who were all poor, into a space away from the general, Christian population. This author provides a wonderful history of the ghettos includingVenice in 1500s, Frankfurt in 1628 and 1868, Warsaw ghetto 1940s. Hitler's camps were actually strict ghettos, and Hitler labeled them as such. It was the first time a Jew could not leave the Ghetto when they gates opened, because they never opened. Despite the horrific treatment of the Jews in centuries past (including the mass drownings of Jews in the Italian Ghettos) It was the first time Jews had been so thoroughly controlled. Putting the Holocaust into the larger narrative of Jewish ghettos that had existed since the 1400s was a really powerful way to help the reader understand the larger context. The author transitioned into discussing black ghettos by driving home the point that human beings seem to always find a way to segregate. Even well meaning liberals helped create modern day ghettos. Dunier recounted various practices that kept black people from realizing the upward mobility that Jewish people or other immigrant in America were finally able to experience. You can lose an accent in a generation or two, but you can't change skin color. It was that skin color that was targeted by many effective, but indirect policies. Real estate agents who wanted to keep working could not show houses to black people in white areas. There was no law that said so. In fact Jim Crow had been struct down, by many rulings handed down from the Supreme Court during the civil rights marches, when many of these practices were still taking place. White owners would have a private, no courts involved, clause in their home sale agreement stating that the new owners could never sell to black people. When one black family moved in, Whites moved out in droves. To understand how people ended up in the ghettos in America, whether those people were first generation immigrants or multi generational black people, Researchers at the Chicago School realized social and economic factors dictated the area in which people lived. They began to identify concentric circles that made various neighborhoods. Poor people, meaning immigrants who first came with very little money and possessions to America and the poorest American citizens who had not (for a variety of reasons) been able to become more prosperous. In studying the concentric living circles (neighborhoods) that poor people, who started out in the poorest of the concentric circles, could often move to wealthier, cleaner, and more organized neighborhoods as they took advantage of different opportunities in the job market. It also became clear that immigrants were disproportionately able to take advantage of opportunities far more often than black people were. Thus, many immigrants, over time, were able to continue moving out of lower SES neighborhoods (making way for the new generation of immigrants) and into better SES neighborhoods. Recall that you can lose an accent but not a skin color. This meant that black people, marked by their very skin, were subjected to acts of segregation far more often than second generation immigrants, who were much more able to blend. Immigrants who lost an accent could apply for jobs where racists or classist interviewers determined whether or not they got hired. Black people's skins made it impossible to sneak past prejudice. Immigrants who lost their accent could move into better neighborhoods if they had the money to do it. A black person, *who had been successful enough to afford a house in a better neighborhood*could not take advantage of their own prosperity because of the personal agreements of white home owners and the even more general agreements between the real estate agents whose jobs would have been in jeopardy if they did not go along with the racists practice, set up by racist realtors, to never sell homes to black people in respectable areas. One particularly salient theme that ran throughout the entire book was that of making stronger the very cultures the dominant culture would like to subvert. For example, from the 1500s on, those in the dominant Christian culture took extreme measures to oust and isolate those of the Jewish faith. In doing so, they forced Jewish people to live in cramped, and horrifically impoverished and hellish, conditions, which helped *strengthen* their ties to each other and to the faith they commonly held. If integrated into the larger society, who knows what would have happened. Maybe the larger culture would have integrated the foreign, but pleasant, aspects of Jewish culture and maybe the Jewish people, living among an accepting larger culture, would have integrated much of that culture as well. However, the dominant culture believed that they needed to stamp down the minority culture, often dehumanizing those in the minority group to achieve their goal. Yet, despite the extreme conditions to which Jewish people, black people, Muslim people, and other poorly treated groups were subjected, their adherence to their ingroup culture and identity with that culture *grew.* Those who lost that culture more often were those who were welcomed into the larger culture. It is always essential to know history so that it is not foolishly repeated. Yet again and again, dominant culture continue to engage in the same suboptimal actions to rid themselves of their perceived problems. This should give us great pause in the current day when dealing with minority groups. We should ask ourselves how effective it really is to shun, segregate, and dehumanize groups we dislike. Dehumanizing segregation practices can be achieved in subtle ways. One does not need to be a full blown racist to keep people or a different color or religion from truly integrating into a dominant culture. For example, think of the ways many states segregate schools, even in the year 2017. Instead of sharing taxes equally, so that *all* children, no matter who their parents are, gain access to an equal education, many states parse taxes into their own concentric circles. If you are a child who happens to be born to poor parents, your circle provides so little money, your school might have outdated textbooks or no textbooks at all, suboptimal teachers teaching subjects that are necessary to learn in order to progress in upward mobility in the future (high school, college, and the job market) or they may have no teachers at all. (Some schools have a study hall in place of a math class because they have no teacher to teach the essential skill of math). If you are a child who happens to be born to wealthy parents, your concentric circle provides so much educational money that your school -- which is well stocked with the most current textbooks, arts and theater programs, enrichment and college readiness programs, and so on -- has enough money to tear down your perfectly good school to remodel it and make an even nicer and newer school. Meanwhile, two towns over, the children there can't even learn math and have no textbooks to learn other subject. This is "polite" way to ensure segregation. It's not a direct ruling, handed down from courts. It's a way to say, "Hey look, I can't help it if you don't have the money to educate your children. I can only worry about mine. You should get a job, work harder, and make more money." The person saying this, who lives in the rich school district, might be a stay-at-home parent whose significant other makes enough money that one parent doesn't even have to work. Meanwhile, both parents in the poor school might have 2 jobs each to make ends meat. When segregation is indirect and not upheld by a court ruling, it's harder to legally attack those less direct measures that ensure the entrapment of poor, and often black, children in bad areas, with bad schools, and abysmal opportunities for upward mobility. Also in this book is a summary of the evolution of sociological thought, including what came out of the Chicago School, Sweden, and other universities. There is a great story of a liberal white researcher named Myrdal and his black researcher named Cayton. It was a story I had not heard before and from now on, I won't forget it. Myrdal was liberal alright, probably one of the most liberal Whites in the field. Yet, he refused to help get funding for Cayton's work. Cayton had gathered hard earned data and Myrdal, a champion for the black community, wanted Cayton's data but in addition to refusing funding, he refused to even give him credit. Cayton got fed up and went out on his own. While not ever becoming as famous as Myrdal, he wrote a much better book on the poorly titled 'Negro Problem" that both he and Myrdal had worked on. Cayton's book held up much better over time. There was a certain justice to that. Something else included in this book that was new to me was the detailed biography of William Julius Wilson. I thought I knew Wilson. In fact, I thought I knew him well. I had no idea what the evolution of his scholarship looked like. I thank Duneier for better educating me on this front.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    A ghetto is thought of as an enclosed area of cities that society places those they perceive as undesirable groups. Duneler tells the history of ghettos, not only the space but the concept of them. In Europe, the undesirables were primarily Jews; in America, it was African Americans. I was fascinated to learn that Jews were the first to be confined. Duneler tells about Venice in 1516 where Jews were forced by decree into confinement behind high walls of the Ghetto Nuovo, an island named after a c A ghetto is thought of as an enclosed area of cities that society places those they perceive as undesirable groups. Duneler tells the history of ghettos, not only the space but the concept of them. In Europe, the undesirables were primarily Jews; in America, it was African Americans. I was fascinated to learn that Jews were the first to be confined. Duneler tells about Venice in 1516 where Jews were forced by decree into confinement behind high walls of the Ghetto Nuovo, an island named after a copper foundry called Geto. Rome and the rest of Italy followed as the Catholic Church deemed the Jewish faith a threat to Christianity. He tells how Napoleon set out to demolish the Ghettoes of Western Europe. I found the history and sociology intriguing. I was most interested in Europe because I knew less about it. But Duneler’s book was 90% about the United States treatment of the Blacks and only 10% about Europe. The book was well written and researched. I found it very easy to read. Duneler has a way of writing that makes complex material easy and a delight to read. I felt this was an important book to read at this time due to all the vitriol currently in this country. Prentice Onayemi does a good job narrating the book. Onayemi is an author, voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    At times it reads like a long book report, but it does raise some great points and highlights some great work. However, I wish there was more thesis and narrative and less other people's ideas. At times it reads like a long book report, but it does raise some great points and highlights some great work. However, I wish there was more thesis and narrative and less other people's ideas.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This is fundamentally a book about the academic depictions of the African American marginalized urban environment. In other words it is a social history of sociologists and their work. This undoubtedly makes it drier than you might think, as the title rather oversells it (and even the author states that the term ghetto should be understood in a 500 year context, and then barely touches anything but African American primarily northern inner cities). It also seems fundamentally opposed to the actu This is fundamentally a book about the academic depictions of the African American marginalized urban environment. In other words it is a social history of sociologists and their work. This undoubtedly makes it drier than you might think, as the title rather oversells it (and even the author states that the term ghetto should be understood in a 500 year context, and then barely touches anything but African American primarily northern inner cities). It also seems fundamentally opposed to the actual "on the ground" place and idea in popular culture. We can see certain of those academic/elite works that influenced the popular culture, but the actual cultural understanding is lacking. For a term that did not start as an academic one, and has had so many complex meanings in society this seems a massive disservice. As a work on the development of sociologists it is interesting in places, but uneven. The ending seems very much like a padded paraphrasing of a few articles about the Harlem Children's Zone project, and doesn't necessarily fit the tone and subjects of the rest of the book. Still the middle involves socially minded gangsters, questions of status and respect, and idealism versus self interest. Which in the hands of a skilled writer would be fascinating and even here, in less gifted hands, is interesting. If you want to read a book about sociologists interacting in a niche that had major policy effects this is not a bad book. It just seems to say less about the ghetto than about the ivory tower and the way political interests cherry pick and distort academic work.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alger Smythe-Hopkins

    This is a book length example of a student essay that begins, "Webster's defines the word ghetto as..." This is a social history of a word, and it is a word with a colorful history. Problem is, Duneier tries to convince us that the word shares an essence with the racially-defined urban enclaves he studies. This doesn't float for a number of reasons. Urban enclaves have existed a long time, certainly much earlier than the invention of the word "ghetto" as a signifier in 16th century Venice. Even t This is a book length example of a student essay that begins, "Webster's defines the word ghetto as..." This is a social history of a word, and it is a word with a colorful history. Problem is, Duneier tries to convince us that the word shares an essence with the racially-defined urban enclaves he studies. This doesn't float for a number of reasons. Urban enclaves have existed a long time, certainly much earlier than the invention of the word "ghetto" as a signifier in 16th century Venice. Even the Jewish enclaves that Duneier describes as the source of the enclave specific meaning of the word long predates the origin of the word, and was only used in one of many cities with such enclaves. The later use of the word to describe the Black-dominant neighborhoods of US cities is a temporal accident of canonical scholarship on post-migration Afro-American urbanism being written shortly after World War II and the heightened emotional stakes resulting from Nazi re-use of the word and the well-publicized atrocities of the Warsaw Ghetto. Which brings us to a key question: What exactly is the purpose of this book? As I mentioned above, Duneier's organizing idea is that the entomology of the word Ghetto (from late-Medieval repression, through Nazi genocide, then to American urban enclaves) tells us something essential about the nature of urban exclusion and patterns of adaption under segregation. What he conclusively demonstrates instead is that it doesn't. The legal mandates creating religiously defined neighborhoods in the 16th century cities of Prague, Frankfort, Rome, Venice, and other cities with large Jewish populations has only bigotry and a name in common with the racialism of twentieth century adaptions of the word ghetto. The entire uselessness of Duneier's approach to history through etymology is emphatically illustrated by his not following the linguistic evolution of ghetto into the present, and away from an exclusive referent to ugly urban enclaves. Ghetto now more commonly functions as a general term of disdain ("That look is so ghetto.") , a type of person ("She is so ghetto"), and a general marker of social apartness ("I have to escape this academic ghetto") far more often than a designation of an Afro-American dominant neighborhood. Neither does Duneier have any more depth to his historical knowledge of the European uses of the word than can be extrapolated from the Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghetto . This is why the book quickly skips past five centuries of the European usage to spend endless pages on the American. The long and detailed chapters devoted to the people and scholarship who gave the word ghetto its particular usage in the United States contrast starkly with the lack of specifics in the earlier sections discussing Venice or the Third Reich. Sadly, the endless pages about the American adoption of the word reveals nothing beyond any general knowledge history text of the Black urban experience in America. So, again I ask: what is the purpose of this book exactly? For all the critical praise for Duneier's re-connection of the mid-20th century US-specific geographic sense to the far more spatially restrictive Venetian enclave of the 16th century, I just can't see what the hell the point of that connection is. I am an urban scholar who publishes scholarly research about about how historical patterns of racial and ethic settlement continue to echo in American cities into the present, and I have to say that I just can't grasp what value this connection between 16th century Venice and the late-20th century United States adds to the "history of an idea", let alone the "invention of a place". This is like arguing that someone saying "You have such a nice house" is really saying that your house is very foolish, or that we would better understand present day computer programming by learning about the human adding machines who crunched numbers for insurance companies in the Victorian era, or that the anatomy of rodents can teach us about how computer peripherals work. Language is a living thing, and every culture and generation adapts the shifty mass of sounds that it inherits to meet its own needs. Point A to point Bee histories of language almost never work for exactly this reason, unless the change is the story. That is where this book fails. It gives us three stages in the use of "ghetto" as a spatial descriptor and insists that the continuity in spelling equals a continuity of meaning. That is silly*. * Silly: The word's considerable sense development moved from "happy" to "blessed" to "pious," to "innocent" (c. 1200), to "harmless," to "pitiable" (late 13c.), "weak" (c. 1300), to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish" (1570s). Further tendency toward "stunned, dazed as by a blow" (1886) in knocked silly, etc.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Excellently written, engaging, and thought provoking, this book is a perfect example of the rhetoric of a public intellectual. Through the examples of several scholars and activists, Duneier compellingly provides the narrative of both scholarship on the African-American "ghetto" and the way it came to be studied by social scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists. It's a stunningly compelling account. Duneier's motive for writing the book, he tells us early on, is to show what is missed if w Excellently written, engaging, and thought provoking, this book is a perfect example of the rhetoric of a public intellectual. Through the examples of several scholars and activists, Duneier compellingly provides the narrative of both scholarship on the African-American "ghetto" and the way it came to be studied by social scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists. It's a stunningly compelling account. Duneier's motive for writing the book, he tells us early on, is to show what is missed if we make over simplistic comparisons of different times, people, and places where ghettos have existed. He points out where scholars made those mistakes, and also where they managed to make brilliant connections in their work based on looking at the neighborhood, public policy, or themselves differently. This would be an excellent book to read both in a book group interested in race and social problems - right on the heels of all the other work being published on race, prisons, society, and crime - or in a sociology graduate seminar. This is what it means to write like a public intellectual - someone who wants good scholarship, but wants it accessible to everyone who has an interest in the material. How does he do this? He selects 4 or 5 figures, and walks us through their lives and work. In doing so, he situates the work in the mind and experience of the scholar, a time, and a place. Then walks us through the creation of it. The book is then reviewed and explained, and the impact and critique is then discussed. These figures pop up again here and there throughout the book as they engage with the much younger scholars following them. It brings the scholarship to light because it shows us that these were real, living, acute questions for those who were working on them. And Duneier brings us up to the end of Obama's first term in this study. It's as comprehensive as it is compelling. I suggest you read this if you are interested in the history of how race is studied in America, the ghetto, public policy toward African Americans in the US, or sociology's "blind spots." The book does a wonderful job with all of these things.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Prima Seadiva

    Audiobook. Reader was very good. Overall I found the book somewhat interesting but rather dry.At times I found myself trudging along in the desert of academia. I was already familiar with the origin of ghetto and the history of the jewish ghettos of Europe. Most of the book seemed to be a review of what others have written about the ghetto and the impact on African Americans. I didn't ever get a sense of what the author thought the future might hold. Audiobook. Reader was very good. Overall I found the book somewhat interesting but rather dry.At times I found myself trudging along in the desert of academia. I was already familiar with the origin of ghetto and the history of the jewish ghettos of Europe. Most of the book seemed to be a review of what others have written about the ghetto and the impact on African Americans. I didn't ever get a sense of what the author thought the future might hold.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Excellent book that recenters black spaces. Duneier leans heavily into the work down previously to understand the concept of the term "ghetto" and does an excellent job of linking the modern idea to Warsaw and medieval Italy. I gained a lot of knowledge from reading this text, but also left with more questions. Perhaps the largest lesson is that there are no simple solutions to understanding the ghetto or fixing the perceived challenges, or helping the people who live in these spaces. Excellent book that recenters black spaces. Duneier leans heavily into the work down previously to understand the concept of the term "ghetto" and does an excellent job of linking the modern idea to Warsaw and medieval Italy. I gained a lot of knowledge from reading this text, but also left with more questions. Perhaps the largest lesson is that there are no simple solutions to understanding the ghetto or fixing the perceived challenges, or helping the people who live in these spaces.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Magnus

    The book is pretty academic which is both a gift and curse. Some of the information is neat other times it's like information overload or just not interesting. All in all a solid read. The book is pretty academic which is both a gift and curse. Some of the information is neat other times it's like information overload or just not interesting. All in all a solid read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    There is so much that Duneier could have done with this book; instead, we are left with a dense tome that *sort of* covers the history of the ghetto, but only in the most superficial and racially-biased way, to the point of being deeply offensive. The actual title of this book should be "Ghetto: The African-American Version of a Place and the Recent 75 Years of an Idea." The history of the ghetto, going back 500 years, specifically how it was used to corral (and protect) the Jews, which gave ris There is so much that Duneier could have done with this book; instead, we are left with a dense tome that *sort of* covers the history of the ghetto, but only in the most superficial and racially-biased way, to the point of being deeply offensive. The actual title of this book should be "Ghetto: The African-American Version of a Place and the Recent 75 Years of an Idea." The history of the ghetto, going back 500 years, specifically how it was used to corral (and protect) the Jews, which gave rise to the idea of the golems, and the widespread social impact of the ghettos (especially throughout Western Europe) is barely glossed over in less than 25 pages, INCLUDING World War II. The remainder of the chapters discuss the black ghettos of Chicago and New York. Nevermind the West Coast or the South. I'll grant that this is an American author, and his focus is on American culture, but what about the other minorities, such as Asian ghettos on the West Coast, Latino ghettos in border and Gulf states, LGBT ghettos in major cities like SF, W Hollywood, Miami. How about the government creating ghettos in the form of the reservations and the internment camps. The story of the ghetto is so much deeper and has so much more content than Duneier is willing to understand or even to acknowledge, and that's the genuinely upsetting part. His view is so closed off, so devoid of context or scope, and he tries to pass this off as some kind of "history," when it doesn't even cover a blip, even an inkling of the topic. And that's the truly offensive part: that his viewpoint is so focused on his thesis, that White folks are at fault for the ghettoization of Black folks, that he COMPLETELY misses the forest(s) for the trees, that this isn't *just* about the African-American experience. If you want to write a book about the African-American experience, then just be honest and WRITE IT. But don't sit there and write some superficial malarkey and call it a "History of an Idea," then ignore 97% of that history!! That's just plain antisemitic.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan Olesen

    Took me forever to slog through this because it is heavy, heavy sociology, which is an interest but not a devotion of mine. This does not mean the book was not excellent, just extremely heavy with sociological history and data. It would take me pages just to summarize the material. The author takes the word Ghetto, which was originally (1400s) a section of Venice where Jews were isolated from Christians. This was their section, they could come and go, Christians could come and go in there, and Took me forever to slog through this because it is heavy, heavy sociology, which is an interest but not a devotion of mine. This does not mean the book was not excellent, just extremely heavy with sociological history and data. It would take me pages just to summarize the material. The author takes the word Ghetto, which was originally (1400s) a section of Venice where Jews were isolated from Christians. This was their section, they could come and go, Christians could come and go in there, and they built a vibrate albeit separate society that thrived. Skip to America, post WWII, and the differences between blatant Southern Racism and hidden Northern Racism against the blacks, who had fought in WWII and were coming back to the US as middle class. Skip to the Civil Rights movements of the 60's, of the change in Welfare of the 80's, and you get a picture of how current race relations disasters have evolved through a myriad of integrated factors. In the end, the book makes a scathing statement: "... evident since Myrdal, namely, that the highest priority of most white people (and most Americans of any race) [in that Asians and middle-class and affluent African-Americans tend to act "white," ie, look down on ghetto-dwellers] is to protect and advance the welfare of themselves and their families. Above and beyond racism, this ability of the American People to compartmentalize, to live with moral dissonance, is the crucial underlying foundation of the forgotten ghetto." If you can handle it, it is an excellent read that will open your eyes, even if you think you are well-informed. Chapter 4 was my favorite.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    Sometime back a scholar wrote a book with the subtitle "The Career of a Concept." Mitchell Duneier's "Ghetto" could have carried a similar subtitle, at least in premise, and at least in terms of what it promises but fails to deliver. The author sets himself the lofty goal of tracing the concept of the ghetto to its etymological roots in Italian, and then into the European communities where Jews were isolated from the larger community. This led paradoxically in some ways to great cultural efflore Sometime back a scholar wrote a book with the subtitle "The Career of a Concept." Mitchell Duneier's "Ghetto" could have carried a similar subtitle, at least in premise, and at least in terms of what it promises but fails to deliver. The author sets himself the lofty goal of tracing the concept of the ghetto to its etymological roots in Italian, and then into the European communities where Jews were isolated from the larger community. This led paradoxically in some ways to great cultural efflorescence in European Jewish communities, some of whose traces linger in the diaspora, in everything from religious customs, eating habits, and a propensity to value education above all else. Herr Duneier also does a good job of showing how the Nazis (mis) appropriated the idea of the ghetto (whose establishment may have been initially involuntary but whose continued existence was very much celebrated by some of those Jews behind the walls in the Middle Ages). In short, Hitler and his minions concealed their intentions to eliminate the Jews by invoking ancient codes with which Jews were familiar, and then quickly speeding up the process from concentration camp to death camp before European Jewry knew what hit it. The author is in command of his subject up to this point, and I especially found fascinating his description of how those struggling earnestly in America with "the Negro Problem" were confused and sometimes shocked when travelling to Europe and they saw the conditions the Ostjuden were living under. The sanctions, for instance, that W.E.B. DuBois received as a black man in Poland were wholly contingent on whether or not he was perceived as a Jew. Europe at this point was so embroiled in other conflicts over identity, other "Questions" with a capital "Q" that no one had time to care about something like skin color. Things fall apart, however, when Mitchell Duneier leaves Europe and arrives on America's shores. He abandons his stated mission and instead gets bogged down in America's idiomatic obsession with fixing or curing the ills of the ghetto.This game of whack-a-mole, based largely on shifting blame, shoddy social science, political expediency, and flat-out lying on all parts, has consumed the efforts, the minds, the money, morale, and frankly the souls of now three generations of well-meaning policy-makers and earnest men and women, along with deep-pocketed philanthropists who have been using the ghetto as their petri dish for awhile now. No one can fault Messier Duneier for not finding a "magic bullet" in the space of a few hundred pages, but that so much of the book is basically a recapitulation of 100-level courses on the fieldwork of people like Kenneth Clark or Gunnar Myrdal is disappointing. He also contradicts himself often enough that his tendency to take some of these other thinkers to task gets a bit wearing. He for instance laments that there is barely any literature available regarding the matrifocal (and grandmother-centered) culture in many ghettos, even though one of the few sources to whom he offers unmitigated praise, Elijah Anderson, (rightly in my view) was not shy about shedding light on the plight and power of the black woman in the hierarchy of the black underclass. It's as if he read Anderson and then promptly forgot everything the man had to impart. Still, there is enough fascinating and novel information and perspective in this book for me to give it a tepid, qualified recommendation. It's just a disappointment that those portions of the book where it's great (near the very beginning and the very end) hint at what could have been, but ultimately "Ghetto" not only under-delivers on its promises and its premise, but seems to forget its purpose about halfway into the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nathanael Roy

    This book is firmly in the 2.5 category. I struggle putting it with other lesser books which I have given two stars but it would be a bit of a stretch to say that I liked this book. Duneier, in addition to having an awesome last name, surprised me a bit in focusing so much on the debates between different sociologists in exploring the roots of poverty and segregation as well as definitions of the term ghetto and causal pathways by which urban economic and cultural stagnation happens. The beginnin This book is firmly in the 2.5 category. I struggle putting it with other lesser books which I have given two stars but it would be a bit of a stretch to say that I liked this book. Duneier, in addition to having an awesome last name, surprised me a bit in focusing so much on the debates between different sociologists in exploring the roots of poverty and segregation as well as definitions of the term ghetto and causal pathways by which urban economic and cultural stagnation happens. The beginning of the book I believe was the strongest, when Duneier traces the roots of the word ghetto back through to the 1500s with Venice and Jewish enclaves where the ghetto of that time was meant to keep Jews separated and in their own confines. As I would come to learn in the next book/course I read, these Jewish enclaves went back a little further still and being quarantined off for bigoted reasons would turn out to be protective starting in 1347 when Yersinia pestis made its first wave through Europe Then Duneier moves to the more modern European turn toward fascism and the Nazi brand of ghetto. Much of the book though was spent in the discussion of the ghetto as it is understood in todays world as inner-city or minority urban neighborhoods that were often designed by a mixture of culture and policy. Duneier goes through Myrdal, Kenneth B Clark, William Julius Wilson, Moynihan and so many other sociologists that I had not been well acquainted with before. At a certain point I started wondering if I might be better served grappling with their own writings instead of this book. This particular book did an ok job of introducing me to these people and did stay somewhat true to returning to the theme of ghetto and place based sociology but was frustrating at times. I feel I was served a bit more of a disconnected jumble of stories and ideas at a surface level rather than a coherent full fledged argument and synthesis of ideas with the sociologists in dialogue with one another within the book. At the same time perhaps a larger theme and argument was in these pages somewhere and I missed it. I will likely return to sociology again at some point soon and perhaps grapple with the ghetto a little better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    This audiobook was a combination of history and sociology combined into one relatively condensed volume that was quite informative. It started out with a brief history of the concept of the ghetto, starting from the Italian sectors set aside for the Jews living in Venice. Originally, the concept of the ghetto started with Jews in Europe, but in America, the idea of the ghetto became associated with the African Americans, particularly those living in the Northern cities. In this study, it is a se This audiobook was a combination of history and sociology combined into one relatively condensed volume that was quite informative. It started out with a brief history of the concept of the ghetto, starting from the Italian sectors set aside for the Jews living in Venice. Originally, the concept of the ghetto started with Jews in Europe, but in America, the idea of the ghetto became associated with the African Americans, particularly those living in the Northern cities. In this study, it is a series of comparisons between the Jewish and African American situations, yet, it is not an exact parallel. The term ghetto did not become associated with those African American neighborhoods until after World War II, when many African Americans came to invoke the term to describe their situation, mostly trying to fight an oppression that seemed somewhat similar to that which the Jews faced in World War II. It is in the post-World War II environment that is the main focus of this work. Duneier takes the reader on a survey of studies conducted about the lives and situation of African Americans in the various ghettos, the social and economic struggles and possible solutions on how to improve those lots. However, as with any issue, there are pros and cons to all studies and works. Duneier uses all of those perspectives to try to define what the "ghetto" is for African Americans. It is not exactly the same as the original ghettos, nor is it exactly like the Nazi ghettos. It is a place of confinement and refuge. He does argue that it will take a multi-front effort to improve the lives of those who are struggling and living in the ghettos, but it does not say that it is hopeless. All in all, a thought provoking work about a concept that many think they know about, but really don't.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    "The word derives from the name of a Venetian island that once housed a copper foundry, or geto. Five hundred years ago, in 1516, the Venetian authorities required the city's Jews to live on that island, in an area enclosed by walls." (ix) "For [Kenneth] Clark, the purpose [of the ghetto] was external control, and the psychology of the ghetto was one of complete helplessness and suspicion." (115) "[William Julius] Wilson rightly argued that the situation of both middle-class and poor blacks ... co "The word derives from the name of a Venetian island that once housed a copper foundry, or geto. Five hundred years ago, in 1516, the Venetian authorities required the city's Jews to live on that island, in an area enclosed by walls." (ix) "For [Kenneth] Clark, the purpose [of the ghetto] was external control, and the psychology of the ghetto was one of complete helplessness and suspicion." (115) "[William Julius] Wilson rightly argued that the situation of both middle-class and poor blacks ... could be better understood if greater weight was placed on the intersection of race and social class." (183-4) "The lack of spillover effects [from Geoffrey Canada's Promise Academy] was actually consistent with the goal of most of the parents: to isolate their kids and see them attain educational success and upward mobility by getting into good colleges and leaving the neighborhood." (210) "When postwar American social scientists fell for the Nazis' trick -- amalgamating the ghettos of the Middle Ages with those imagined by Hitler -- they missed the chance to highlight the variations in both control and human flourishing that can be found under conditions of forced segregation." (222)

  16. 4 out of 5

    J.

    This book started out with so much promise. It is clear Duneier is well versed in the history of the word "ghetto" and it's Jewish origins. It is simultaneously clear he is not so well versed in current events and the lifestyle of African Americans. He misses opportunities to point out how modern ghettos have shaped culture (the birth of hip hop, Black Lives Matter, black stories in movies and on television). His lack of grasping the depth of the ghetto on black life leads to a failure to connec This book started out with so much promise. It is clear Duneier is well versed in the history of the word "ghetto" and it's Jewish origins. It is simultaneously clear he is not so well versed in current events and the lifestyle of African Americans. He misses opportunities to point out how modern ghettos have shaped culture (the birth of hip hop, Black Lives Matter, black stories in movies and on television). His lack of grasping the depth of the ghetto on black life leads to a failure to connect the the Jewish and African American people to a term that is both a plight and birthplace of culture. I wish this had been co-authored by someone with extension African American sociology credits/experience.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Honeybee

    This was a great academic book that gave me a much deeper knowledge of the history of the ghetto all way to present day. I have often asked myself why there is so much racial turmoil in our society today. Now, I have a better understanding of why our country is facing some of the issues regarding race in this current time. While this book did not offer any solutions, I feel that I have a better base knowledge to help educate my children and take steps to make a difference in my community. In the This was a great academic book that gave me a much deeper knowledge of the history of the ghetto all way to present day. I have often asked myself why there is so much racial turmoil in our society today. Now, I have a better understanding of why our country is facing some of the issues regarding race in this current time. While this book did not offer any solutions, I feel that I have a better base knowledge to help educate my children and take steps to make a difference in my community. In the wise wisdom of Maya Angelou, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brandy Bones

    Another reviewer commented that Ghetto read like a book report at times. I agree but I kind of liked it that way. An excellent synthesis of how leading intellectuals have shaped our country’s approach to addressing the issues found within our country’s ghettoes and why some of them have been so misguided and almost all of them have failed. A reminder that addressing poverty and racial inequity requires systemic changes and a multidimensional approach that tackles employment, education, housing, Another reviewer commented that Ghetto read like a book report at times. I agree but I kind of liked it that way. An excellent synthesis of how leading intellectuals have shaped our country’s approach to addressing the issues found within our country’s ghettoes and why some of them have been so misguided and almost all of them have failed. A reminder that addressing poverty and racial inequity requires systemic changes and a multidimensional approach that tackles employment, education, housing, crime, racism - structural and overt - together. For me, it filled in some major gaps in my understanding of how key scholars and intellectual movements shaped public poverty policy. I have a long list of follow on books I now need to read so I can go deeper. And finally the best and truest line of the entire book is the last one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura Kuznia

    This is a 4 star academic book in that it provides crucial history and examinations of the term “ghetto” and its uses and changes in the US; if you have an interest in race relations, this is a good book to offer insight and evidence based arguments. This is a 3 star book in terms of personal entertainment; if you are not ready to read a dense history and examination of one subject, it might be difficult to get through. However, this book was well researched and raised many questions while answe This is a 4 star academic book in that it provides crucial history and examinations of the term “ghetto” and its uses and changes in the US; if you have an interest in race relations, this is a good book to offer insight and evidence based arguments. This is a 3 star book in terms of personal entertainment; if you are not ready to read a dense history and examination of one subject, it might be difficult to get through. However, this book was well researched and raised many questions while answering many others as any good academic text should.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    Really interesting overview of the history of the ghetto--as a physical place and an idea--and the research on it. The book isn't comprehensive; instead, it's an introduction to the historical Jewish ghetto, and then a series of chapters looking at the work of sociologists of the black ghetto in particular places (Chicago and New York) and times (from the 1940s to today). Great read if you're not up for reading all the works he cites--though I may pick up a few! Really interesting overview of the history of the ghetto--as a physical place and an idea--and the research on it. The book isn't comprehensive; instead, it's an introduction to the historical Jewish ghetto, and then a series of chapters looking at the work of sociologists of the black ghetto in particular places (Chicago and New York) and times (from the 1940s to today). Great read if you're not up for reading all the works he cites--though I may pick up a few!

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a fantastic study that looks at the ways African-American scholars used the concept of the Jewish ghetto to make sense of the urbanexperience of Blacks in places like New York and Chicago. This is an intellectual history that has lots of relevance for America today. From my perspective one sees what some describe as pathologies of Blacks increasingly common among lower and lower middle class whites.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I understand the myriad forces that conspire to create and maintain "the ghetto." I sympathize with it and I wish there were more that could be done to help people help themselves. That said, this book was too high brow for me. I am not a scholar, I don't need the full etymology to know that shit is fucked and needs to be fixed. I was, however, hoping that there would be some sort of happy conclusion. Not so. I understand the myriad forces that conspire to create and maintain "the ghetto." I sympathize with it and I wish there were more that could be done to help people help themselves. That said, this book was too high brow for me. I am not a scholar, I don't need the full etymology to know that shit is fucked and needs to be fixed. I was, however, hoping that there would be some sort of happy conclusion. Not so.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Victor Negut

    The thing I like most about this book is that it really gives insight into race and class as these were understood in particular times and places. The author is very careful not to fall into the traps of dwelling on modern interpretations of the actions of the 1950s and 60s. It also doesn’t defend or gloss over the inaccuracies of historical thinking. I just wish there was more in-depth comparison between the concepts of ghetto from Venice to modern day America and Paris and India.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Catie Carlson

    A very thought provoking piece providing not only a history of the term ghetto but how we view (and how that view developed) within the context of the United States. An overview of social scientists and policies give a seemingly great overview of the issue at hand. Highly recommend, but probably wouldn't read a second time. A very thought provoking piece providing not only a history of the term ghetto but how we view (and how that view developed) within the context of the United States. An overview of social scientists and policies give a seemingly great overview of the issue at hand. Highly recommend, but probably wouldn't read a second time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    Fascinating study (by a sociologist) of the idea of the ghetto and its application, from early use describing Jewish ghettos in Rome through Eastern Europe and Germany... to the 20th Century and current times, in how it has been used to describe areas of residence for African-Americans. Same term, very different meanings... but with lessons for how we understand putting groups into “other” categories, circumscribed literally and figuratively by actual or economic walls, discriminating against th Fascinating study (by a sociologist) of the idea of the ghetto and its application, from early use describing Jewish ghettos in Rome through Eastern Europe and Germany... to the 20th Century and current times, in how it has been used to describe areas of residence for African-Americans. Same term, very different meanings... but with lessons for how we understand putting groups into “other” categories, circumscribed literally and figuratively by actual or economic walls, discriminating against these groups in every way imaginable, and then perversely holding their (unavoidable) observed limitations (inability to succeed by whatever economic, behavioral, or other standard created by the rest of society) against them as supposed inherent flaws in characterological or cultural make-up. Ingenious and horrible as a method of social control—the study of which is worth our every consideration.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alvaro Sanchez

    The book presents a well-researched and synthesized argument concerning past scholarship on low-income communities of color. Certainly a must-read for those who want to better understand how social science has interacted with government policy in marginalized communities. I especially appreciated the author’s inclusion of the “ghettoes’” connotation and usage in Europe vs. America.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dominic Howarth

    Powerful, eye-opening, and informative, this book is a necessary tome for anyone who wants to understand life in America. Drawing from a wide variety of sources, it tackles hard to answer questions about the ghetto, why it exists, and how can we as a nation can remedy the situation for thousands of Americans living in poverty due to it?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauragiffin

    More of a history of people who wrote about the history of the concept of a ghetto. Some parts imply that racist researchers can be legitimate sources of knowledge. I'm looking at you, Charles Murray. More of a history of people who wrote about the history of the concept of a ghetto. Some parts imply that racist researchers can be legitimate sources of knowledge. I'm looking at you, Charles Murray.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Will G

    an acedemic book on the history and characteristics of Ghettos. i read this at the request of a friend, not my usual fare. but interesting in it's own right and eye opening in terms of Ghettos in America. an acedemic book on the history and characteristics of Ghettos. i read this at the request of a friend, not my usual fare. but interesting in it's own right and eye opening in terms of Ghettos in America.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A thoughtful, wide-ranging work of history and sociology.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.