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Turf Wars: Discourse, Diversity, and the Politics of Place

ISBN: 978-1-4051-2955-8
376 pages
January 2007, ©2006, Wiley-Blackwell
Turf Wars: Discourse, Diversity, and the Politics of Place (1405129557) cover image
Turf Wars: Discourse, Diversity, and the Politics of Place is the fascinating story of an urban neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification.
  • Explores how members of a multi-ethnic, multi-class Washington, DC, community deploy language to legitimize themselves as community members while discrediting others.
  • Discusses such issues as public toilets and public urination, the "morality" of co-ops and condos, and characterizations of "good" girls and "bad" boys.
  • Draws on linguistic anthropology and discourse analysis to provide insight into the ways that local activity shapes larger urban social processes.
  • Draws also on cultural geography and urban anthropology.
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Series Preface.

List of Figures.

Acknowledgments.

Part I: The Ethnography.

1. Sketching the Landscape.

2. Mt. Pleasant History and Social Geography.

3. The Moral Geography of Mt. Pleasant.

4. The Politics of Filth.

5. La Loca vs. the Cultural Vampires.

6. Keeping it in the Family.

7. Home Ties, Winds of Change.

Part II: The Making of Turf Wars.

8. Theorizing Discourse.

9. Geography and Social Locations.

Addendum: Defining Terms.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Gabriella Gahlia Modan (PhD Georgetown University) is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, The Ohio State University.
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  • Explores how members of a multi-ethnic, multi-class Washington, DC, community deploy language to legitimize themselves as community members while discrediting others.
  • Discusses such issues as public toilets and public urination, the “morality” of co-ops and condos, and characterizations of “good” girls and “bad” boys.
  • Draws on linguistic anthropology and discourse analysis to provide insight into the ways that local activity shapes larger urban social processes.
  • Draws also on cultural geography and urban anthropology.
See More
"The style of writing in Turf Wars is refreshing. ... .Modan aims to bring to a wider audience an understanding of how language works through the adoption of this more informal style." (Cultural Geographies, January 2010)

"A highly readable, lively, and unusually accessible work of ethnography that could be the centerpiece of many different kinds of classes from introductory courses in cultural, linguistic, or urban anthropology to graduate seminars in discourse-analytic method. It makes cleat the potential of discourse analysis as an ethnographic tool. It is also likely to remain topical for many years, since it lays out with great clarity the fundamental conundrums and contradictions that city dwellers must navigate in the United States today and captures the discursive practices by which they manage them with great fluency." (Journal of Anthropological Research, November 2008)

"Modan's ethnographic participant observation in Mount Pleasant, a diverse community in the Washington DC area, chronicles how this urban neighborhood made up of African Americans, Salvadorans, Vietnamese, and Mennonites experienced diversification and gentrification, leading to contests over the use of public and private space, gender, kinship, and class. Conflicts came about as the result of real estate speculation, the "politics of filth" debate over proposed public toilets, and other related issues. Modan (English, Ohio State Univ.) argues that the spatial practices and politics contest and challenge the dominant ideas regarding the use of space. The author presents two theoretical chapters on framing, discourse, and performance, and discusses ideas of Goffman, Castells, Lefevre, and many others. In the process, she illuminates how local activity can shape social processes. Material is current and includes a 15-page bibliography ... .Recommended." (CHOICE)

"Turf Wars is endlessly rich and lively, and will be a fundamental text on how Americans in the beginning of the twenty-first century live in cities." –Jane Hill, University of Arizona

"Turf Wars gives voice to old and new immigrants in a complicated neighborhood. Modan makes a key contribution to understanding how language reflects and recreates processes of including and excluding other people as proper members of the community. Because so many people live in seemingly multicultural but deeply contested and changing communities, this book will engage readers drawn to the complexities of cities and those interested in more egalitarian urban policies." –Brett Williams, American University

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