Re-scaling patriotism: Competition and urban identity in Michael Bloomberg's New York

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This article responds to Akhil Gupta's 1997 call for the exploration of spatialized commitment operating at scales besides that of the nation. It analyzes the attempts of the administration of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to mobilize "urban patriotism" in support of development proposals for Manhattan's west side by portraying its opponents as insufficiently committed to the city's future. Not just urban development policy was at stake in this debate, but the meaning of being a New Yorker. The urban identity that the administration and its allies espoused portrayed the city as a home for the ambitious, the innovative, the cosmopolitan, and above all the competitive, and was related to the local emergence of a new, globalized corporate elite. Other New Yorkers had different understandings of the city and their place in it, which ultimately doomed efforts to mobilize urban patriotism. The intersection of class-related identity and the fact of increased interurban competition created the conditions for urban identity to emerge as an issue. Finally, it is argued that urban identity must be distinguished from "boosterism," and the likelihood of urban patriotism being mobilized in other global cities operating in a competitive environment is appraised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-432
Number of pages46
JournalUrban Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


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