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The Boundaries of Culture: Perceiving and Experiencing Place in Multi-ethnic Los Angeles


The extent to which cities can develop and market a brand has become a key strategy for maintaining competitiveness in the post-industrial economy in attracting tourism, investment, and job and population growth. In this context, ethnic populations in many Western cities have operationalized notions of culture in order to transform or reappropriate urban places, and improve the local quality of life. However, as cities become increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse, rather than a singular cultural identity occupying one neighborhood it is likely that multiple ethnic communities overlap in shared urban spaces. This dissertation offers an in-depth study of a highly diverse area of Los Angeles in order to examine the ways in which multi-ethnic communities operationalize culture, negotiate boundaries, and define their community and neighborhood. In doing so, it scrutinizes strategies of cultural urban revitalization that rely on static and singular notions of a spatial identity, and argues that planning scholars and community development practitioners support the cultural spaces of everyday life for which residents feel a strong sense of place attachment.

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