Title: Race/Ethnicity, Space, and Political Culture: A Comparative Study of Collective Violence in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles
Name: Janet L. Abu-Lughod
Year: 1997. 1998
Type: Research Grant

The book manuscript proposed in the grant application outlined a comparative study of six race riots in the context of the history, demographic changes, geographic distributions by race and ethnicity, and economic labor force conditions in the three largest metropolitan regions of the United States: New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I proposed to describe and trace the causes for the eruption of major urban civil strife in Chicago in 1919 and in 1968, in New York in 1935-1943 and in 1964, and in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1992 within the historical context of race relations in the United States in the twentieth century. I also proposed to examine the differential roles played by racial segregation in the three urban centers and to examine the effects of differences in political organization and culture and police discipline and behavior, with the goal of recommending policies that could defuse tensions--not by marginalizing and suppressing minorities but by opening opportunities in the economy and the local power structure.

My book, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America's Global Cities (University of Minnesota Press, 1999), went through the final stages of writing and then production during the period of fellowship support. It included the historical, demographic, economic, and political context for "Race/Ethnicity, Space, and Political Culture: A Comparative Study of Collective Violence in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles." That book incorporated brief accounts of the above-mentioned race riots and set the stage for the more detailed investigation and analysis I proposed.

But the preparation of the new manuscript proved more complex than I had anticipated, in part because although some secondary accounts of variable quality were available on some of the cases I had selected, the lacunae in information (most perplexing was the absolute absence of any secondary account of the major Chicago riot that had burned down a vast area on the west side in 1968!) and the contradictions in descriptions and interpretations written from vastly different ideological positions required archival research and the reconstruction of events through triangulating widely different accounts in newspaper coverage and secondary sources, prolonged the time required, and led to new discoveries and major reinterpretations.

Bibliography: Abu-Lughod, Janet L. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America's Global Cities. Saint Paul: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.