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The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life Hardcover – March 28, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1St Edition edition (March 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393071634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393071634
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Yale sociology professor Anderson (Code of the Street) takes the reader on an ethnographic walking tour of Philadelphia to observe how city dwellers interact across racial lines. He attends particularly to the "cosmopolitan canopy"—public settings like parks, malls, town squares that maintain civil and comfortable interactions between diverse populations. Anderson moves then to those areas where the canopy breaks down (the workplace, public transportation). Anderson's nuanced treatment of "the social dynamics of racial inequality" and his precise observations (the politics of eye contact, for example), while rooted in scholarship, are uncommonly readable: snippets from his journals and sketches of neighborhood habitués offer immediate pleasure, and the book is a people watcher's delight. And while Anderson doesn't gloss over how prevalent and pernicious racism remains in America—"There comes a time in the life of every African American, regardless of how high he or she has risen in society, when he or she is reminded of his or her place as a black man or woman"—his study allows a cautious optimism that "the canopy offers a taste of how inclusive and civil social relationships could become." (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Cosmopolitan canopies are those spaces in urban environments that offer a break from the tensions of chafing racial and economic differences, a place for diverse peoples to assemble and rub elbows. Sociologist and folk ethnographer Anderson offers a rich narrative of such spaces in Philadelphia, including Reading Terminal Market and Rittenhouse Square. Anderson details the give-and-take of public interaction in urban settings, much of it dictated by race and class. He observes how close and far away people sit, whether they greet each other, how deep or long their interactions are, and whether they break or reinforce barriers. He also chronicles the daily shifting of space used by the homeless, workers, residents, and commuters as they encounter, interact, and evade. Anderson�s observations are keen but not distant as he offers journal pages and interviews, showing his own full engagement in interactions with a cross section of Philadelphians. Anderson also offers singular insight into the social machinations of blacks in professional versus social settings. Fascinating sociology and people-watching at its profound best. --Vanessa Bush

More About the Author

ELIJAH ANDERSON holds the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professorship in Sociology at Yale University, where he teaches and directs the Urban Ethnography Project. His prominent works include the award-winning books "Code of the Street" and "Streetwise," and 2011's "The Cosmopolitan Canopy." His writings have also appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and the New York Times Book Review. He lives in New Haven and Philadelphia.

Customer Reviews

I have read the book, along with Prof.
Joseph T. Looby
The Cosmopolitan Canopy is a brilliant description of safe and unsafe spaces in an urban environment.
David
Anderson, once again, provides an excellent backstage sociological view into the urban experience.
Peter Moskos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter Moskos on June 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Another urban tour de force by Elijah Anderson. The Cosmopolitan Canopy brings back fond memories of Jane Jacobs as it takes the reader through neighborhoods, describing in great and very readable detail just how our cities work. Unlike Jacobs, Cosmopolitan Canopy focuses primarily on race by examining the way boundaries are formed, roles are maintained, and social interactions occur. Anderson, once again, provides an excellent backstage sociological view into the urban experience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David on September 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Cosmopolitan Canopy is a brilliant description of safe and unsafe spaces in an urban environment. Anderson delights in observing various scenes in Philadelphia. If you live here, you will take special pleasure in recognizing the places he describes. He begins by describing cosmopolitan canopies, spaces where everyone is welcome and encouraged to let down their guard. He goes on to carefully delineate why people of color need and create ethno spaces, as well, places apart where they can be totally themselves. He posits that everyone has varying degrees of ethno and cosmo orientations, and it's fascinating to think about where one fits into that spectrum.
As a white person, I tend to assume that all spaces are cosmopolitan, that all spaces should be equally welcoming to a variety of racial groups. While Professor Anderson communicates a strong respect and appreciation for those cosmopolitan canopies, he subtly challenges the assumption that all institutions have that kind of safety, and explains why set-apart places are important for some groups.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph T. Looby on December 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have read the book, along with Prof. Anderson's magnificant Code of the Street. He is slowly building a body of work based on a lifetime of observing with the keen eye of an artist though he is professionally credentialed as a sociologist. When he is finished observing, in my opinion he will have assembled a body of work that will set the new standard for defining the US urban community in terms of racial relations. His work, exemplied in The Cosmopolitan Canopy by his description of racial fault lines concealed at times by a glossy-civil behavior, should provoke a national conversation about how we might re-consider assumptions made based on stereotypes we have been conditioned to accept. This book and Code of the Street should be must reading for every American concerned about the future of our cities as ethnic and racial diversity escalates.
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Format: Paperback
This book is perfectly suited for use in introductory university course work and, I suspect, pertinent community college and even high school courses. I am currently using the book in a large-enrollment introduction to sociology at a public research university. I can report that the 400+ students in this course, many of whom are first-year and first-generation both, seem to find the book accessible, engaging, and even inspiring. Anderson's decision to foreground emerging cosmopolitan spaces in which civility, comity, and pluralistic values predominate helps students better appreciate contrasting ethnocentric spaces in which racial prejudice, discrimination, and segregation hold sway. Anderson's ability to deftly move between such social spaces, and his well-known penchant for exquisite writing and sophisticated sociological analysis, make this book as compelling as his previous highly regarded, award-winning urban ethnographic studies. In the end, the book does what ethnography is supposed to do: it provides a richly detailed portrait of the emergent "cosmopolitan canopy" alongside a bracing study of the "moments of acute disrespect" which demarcate today's experience of W.E.B. DuBois' "color line," that is, the line between the relatively few but hopeful cosmopolitan canopies and the unfortunately much more common ethnocentric worlds of prejudice and discrimination.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By william j. cohen on August 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of course this book is going to become a classic in the ethnographic literature. Anderson is amazingly perceptive.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A lot of smart people don't know much about ethnography - what it is, why it's conducted, or what it could be useful for. Cosmopolitan Canopy is a great example of how ethnography can be useful.

Anderson explores how physical space, behavior, and race intermingle in open spaces in central Philadelphia - an indoor market, a mall, and a park. He argues that some urban spaces create a 'cosmopolitan canopy' where people can (safely) act certain kinds of behaviors, focusing in particular on explorations of race.

The book a rare combination of being well-written (and easy and fun to read) and thorough and insightful, and shows how ethnography can be a valuable tool in exploring the topic of race in contemporary America.

This book belongs alongside Mitchell Duneier's classic Slim's Table, both for its exploration of race and as a first-rate example of how ethnography should be done.
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By benson webb on February 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book covered a lot of personal interactions that takes place in an urban environment. It also highlighted the ongoing struggle of race relations as it relates to the rural deep south environment. I found it most enlighting.
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