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City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politicsby Alex Vitale
Synopses & Reviews
2009 Association of American University Presses Award for Jacket Design
In the 1990s, improving the quality of life became a primary focus and a popular catchphrase of the governments of New York and many other American cities. Faced with high levels of homelessness and other disorders associated with a growing disenfranchised population, then mayor Rudolph Giuliani led New York's zero tolerance campaign against what was perceived to be an increase in disorder that directly threatened social and economic stability. In a traditionally liberal city, the focus had shifted dramatically from improving the lives of the needy to protecting the welfare of the middle and upper classes—a decidedly neoconservative move.
In City of Disorder, Alex S. Vitale analyzes this drive to restore moral order which resulted in an overhaul of the way New York views such social problems as prostitution, graffiti, homelessness, and panhandling. Through several fascinating case studies of New York neighborhoods and an in-depth look at the dynamics of the NYPD and of the city's administration itself, Vitale explains why Republicans have won the last four New York mayoral elections and what the long-term impact Giuliani's zero tolerance method has been on a city historically known for its liberalism.
Neither Fugitive nor Free draws on the freedom suit as recorded in the press and court documents to offer a critically and historically engaged understanding of the freedom celebrated in the literary and cultural histories of transatlantic abolitionism. Freedom suits involved those enslaved valets, nurses, and maids who accompanied slaveholders onto free soil. Once brought into a free jurisdiction, these attendants became informally free, even if they were taken back to a slave jurisdiction—at least according to abolitionists and the enslaved themselves. In order to secure their freedom formally, slave attendants or others on their behalf had to bring suit in a court of law.
Edlie Wong critically recuperates these cases in an effort to reexamine and redefine the legal construction of freedom, will, and consent. This study places such historically central anti-slavery figures as Frederick Douglass, Olaudah Equiano, and William Lloyd Garrison alongside such lesser-known slave plaintiffs as Lucy Ann Delaney, Grace, Catharine Linda, Med, and Harriet Robinson Scott. Situated at the confluence of literary criticism, feminism, and legal history, Neither Fugitive nor Free presents the freedom suit as a "new" genre to African American and American literary studies.
About the Author
Alex S. Vitale is Associate Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He has also worked for the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
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