Drick's Reviews > The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life

The Cosmopolitan Canopy by Elijah Anderson
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May 17, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: community-work, race-ethnic-studies
Read from April 28 to May 17, 2011

Reading Elijah Anderson makes me (1) take notice of events around me in a closer way and (2) causes me to question what I consider to be "normal" happenings in every day life. Sharing the results of a years-long ethnographic study of certain public spaces in Philadelphia's Center City (Reading Market, The Gallery, Rittenhouse Square, 30th St. Station) Anderson describes these spaces as canopies where people of different racial and economic background interact in a civil way that can be a model for all society./ At the same time he highlights the particular struggles of African American people navigating the always unclear nature of social milieus in which they find themselves.I particularly appreciated his discussion of the the "cosmos", black persons, most often middle class, who have chosen to think the best of their white colleagues and counterparts, while at the same time alway wary of experiencing a "nigger moment" when their race becomes the defining factor as to how whites around him/her perceive him/her.

This book was particularly interesting as it dealt with my city of Philadelphia, and helps me appreciate more fully the nuanced and complex relationships that exist between whites and people of color in my community.
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