GEO 201-Discuss the changing meaning of a particular

| March 14, 2016

Geography 220
Winter 2016
J. Freeman

Term paper assignment

Discuss the changing meaning of a particular local place, of which you have first-hand
knowledge, in the context of broader social and economic processes. Focus on a neighborhood,
street, square, or some other small scale place where you have lived or that you otherwise know
intimately. How has this place changed in recent years? Why? What is the role of “globalization”
or structural changes in the world economy? What sort of place-making efforts can you observe?
Can you identify conflicts between top-down placemaking and bottom-up placemaking, or
between other competing visions of the place?
Processes that often lead to conflict over the meaning of place, and that lend themselves to multiscale analysis include:
Gentrification — Wealthier residents moving into an older city neighborhood, causing housing
prices to rise and forcing poorer residents out.
Ethnic transition — The growth of one ethnic population in an area, at the expense of another.
Polarization — An increase of both wealth and poverty in a particular area.
City marketing — Efforts by politicians and business leaders to promote a city or part of a city in
order to attract tourists, conferences, businesses, and wealthier residents.
Urban beautification — City marketing often involves physical changes to the city or parts of the
city as part of an effort to change the city’s image.
Post-industrial spaces — Areas where industry has declined are converted into leisure and
residential spaces.
Deindustrialization — The decline of industrial areas
Technopoles — The (usually government-sponsored) development of high-tech industries in
particular areas in an effort to improve the broader economy.
These are suggested issues meant to give you ideas for your topic. Your topic may include a
combination of these issues or none of them. Once you have identified a place where old
meanings are being challenged and new meanings are emerging, you can begin your research.
Find local history as background. City and borough web sites are very useful. Search local
newspapers for stories that provide background and stories that discuss recent changes. You may
be able to find information in history books. Concordia Library’s on-line databases provide full
text searches of newspaper and academic articles. Consult a librarian. Finally, conduct interviews
with local people. Two or three good interviews with friends and/or relatives will be fine for
most papers, but you might also consider interviewing others who have intimate knowledge of
your place. You may also provide information from your own experiences and observations.
Make sure to refer to relevant concepts and ideas from the coursepack and from lecture.
Engagement with the course material will be a key grading criterion.
1,500 words, double-spaced, proof-read and spell-checked. Paper topic due Feb 15. Final paper
due April 14 at the beginning of class. You may change your paper topic as the course
progresses, but no paper will be accepted without an approved topic.

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