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on September 3, 2011
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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on June 9, 2011
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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on December 30, 2011
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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on October 10, 2014
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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on March 25, 2013
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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on August 22, 2014
Of course this book is going to become a classic in the ethnographic literature. Anderson is amazingly perceptive.
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on July 18, 2015
As one interested in racial justice for a lifetime, I greatly appreciated this approach. Somewhat of a new comer to the city of Philadelphia, I provided new insight into race relations, both historically and currently. Look forward to both meeting the author and reading more of his works.
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on February 21, 2013
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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on December 4, 2013
I have followed Anderson's work and this book certainly departs from his earlier books in terms of tone and empirical object. Cosmopolitan Canopy reads as 2 books. The first includes a walking tour of Philadelphia and extended discussion of civil, interracial and intercultural spaces Anderson names the book after. This part of the book felt a bit thin despite the fact that it contained much more thick description than the second half of the book. In the latter chapters Anderson writes about the complexities of a life lived in a raced world characterized by increasing erosion of structural limitations to Intergroup contact. Although this part of the text is thin on ethnography, it carries significant emotional weight as the lament of a member of the AA middle
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on October 7, 2015
Got for a college class, ended up being amazingly interesting. Elijah Anderson is the man.
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