Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (1997) serves as a classic study regarding gated communities

I’ve been reading several books about gated communities in countries around the world, beginning with The Government Next Door (2015), which I have discussed in previous posts.

Fortress America (1997)

The latter study refers to Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (1997) among other resources. Fortress America (1997), like The Government Next Door (2015) is a beautifully written text. By beautifully written, I mean that in each case, the data is sound, and is organized in a comprehensive and well-reasoned framework, and the story is told in a manner that is cogent and maintains the close attention of the reader.

The first paragraph of “Starnes on Blakely and Snyder, ‘Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States,’ ” an online review at Humanities and Social Sciences Online (H-Net), reads:

  • The authors of Fortress America are from California where many gated communities have been planned and developed and many others have been created by barricades over the last twenty years. Dr. Blakely has served in the faculties of both the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Southern California. Ms. Snyder is a doctoral student in the University of California, Berkeley. The book is about gated communities and the people who live in them. It is also about the reasons people choose to live in them and just what this means in the broader context of the larger community and societal goals, norms, and mores. The book focuses the reader’s attention on complex issues. Among these issues are private versus public rights and how citizen responsibilities play out in the practice of community life. The gated community can be reflective of society and culture and it can be said that the phenomenon “is a dramatic manifestation of a new fortress mentality growing in America” (p. 1).

[End of quote]

The Government Next Door (2015)

An online overview, at the Australian National University (ANU) College of
Asia & the Pacific, regarding Luigi Tomba’s The Government Next Door (2015) concludes with the following paragraphs:

It was a sharp turnaround from the 1960s and 1970s, when citizens were asked to be frugal and consume as little as possible so that resources could be devoted to ‘productive activities’.

Some have argued the changes have brought about a slackening of the Communist regime’s hold on people. Tomba disagrees.

“It’s not that people are governed less, rather, there has been a change in the way in which people are governed,” he says.

In gated communities, for example, the needs of as many as 20,000 people are administered by private management companies.

Such companies perform roles normally reserved for government officials, like enforcing China’s one child policy. The private companies also take care of the removal of garbage and maintenance of buildings and surrounding grounds.

Homeowners in turn pay fees for the services.

If they are not happy with the result, they protest.

Mostly initiated from educated middle class groups, the protests rarely prompt police involvement.

“The legitimacy of these protests start from the fact that they are not anti-government,” Tomba points out.

Interestingly, those taking part buy into the same type of language and political narratives used by the government.

As such, Tomba believes the property revolution in China has the potential to strengthen, rather than weaken the Communist regime’s legitimacy, and its ability to govern at the grass roots.

On the other hand, while urban China has been exposed to the vagaries of a housing market that has created significant wealth for the first generation of middle class owners, it has also pushed prices beyond the reach of younger generations.

“With so many citizens heavily invested in the urban property market, the government needs to handle very carefully, the possibility of a housing crisis,” Tomba says.

The Government Next Door is published by Cornell University Press.

Read a review of the book at The Interpreter.

[End of excerpt]


An April 28, 2016 Walrus article is entitled: “Neighbourhood Watch: How social networks lead to racial profiling. Welcome to Canada’s new virtual gated communities.”

Also of interest: One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment (2016).

A June 2016 Atlantic article is entitled: The Destructive Legacy of Housing Segregation: Less visible than the rise of income inequality in America is its impact in shaping the country’s urban neighborhoods. Two books – by Matthew Desmond and Mitchell Duneier – could help change that.”

A June 2016 Atlantic article is entitled: “China’s Twilight Years: The country’s population is aging and shrinking. That means big consequences for its economy – and America’s global standing.”

A June 15, 2016 Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy article is entitled: “China issues demolition order on world’s largest religious town in Tibet.”

A Nov. 12, 2016 Globe and Mail article by Doug Saunders, entitled “Whitewashed,” features an American interview subject who lives in a gated community: “Although her neighbourhood, which is gated and predominantly white, does not see much crime, her family had armed up, accumulating more firearms to protect itself.”

A Best of 2016 Longreads article, which refers to the concept of “gated communities” in the context of warfare, is entitled: “Theorizing the Drone: What does the rise of the drone mean for justice, for the ethics of heroism, for psychology? Most important of all, who is dying and why?”

Richard Rorty

A July 2017 Los Angeles Review of Books article is entitled: “Conversational Philosophy: A Forum on Richard Rorty.”

The introduction reads:

AFTER DONALD J. TRUMP was elected president of the United States, the American philosopher Richard Rorty (1931–2007) returned to the pages of many of the major newspapers of the world as one of the few thinkers who had predicted the election of a “strongman” with Trump’s homophobic and racist features. The relevant passage can be found in the lectures Rorty delivered on the history of leftist thought in 20th-century America at Harvard University in 1997, and published as Achieving Our Country a year later. While reprints of this book were hitting several political philosophy best seller lists, Rorty’s Page-Barbour lectures — titled Philosophy as Poetry — were also released. If in Achieving Our Country, Rorty predicted the election of a right-wing populist, in the latter he stresses how valuable the imagination is for the future of philosophy, which is, in many ways, an imperiled discipline. Although these are not his most important books, they indicate that Rorty was a philosopher ahead of his time, a philosopher for the future.

The goal of this forum is not simply to remember Rorty 10 years after he passed away on the June 8, 2007, but also to continue the conversation which he urged all philosophers to pursue. I have invited Marianne Janack, María Pía Lara, Eduardo Mendieta, and Martin Woessner to cover specific aspects of Rorty’s thought, including feminism, social hope, and post-truth. Their concise contributions underscore the significance of Rorty’s writings for the 21st century. My introduction recalls important moments of the American thinker’s life as well as his outstanding contribution to continental philosophy.

— Santiago Zabala


1 reply
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    A Nov 29, 2016 Pacific Standard article is entitled: “One Last Thing: Hostile Architecture: Yesterday’s public-safety measure has become today’s assault on the underclass.”


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