Yale’s Elijah Anderson to deliver lecture as SPPA marks 50th

Yale’s Elijah Anderson to deliver lecture as SPPA marks 50th

Eminent scholar and professor Elijah Anderson of Yale University will deliver a talk on race and civility on Tuesday, Nov. 15, giving the first speech in a series of distinguished lectures organized by the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) to commemorate its 50-year anniversary.

SPPA, established in 1961 to focus on the challenges of urban America, will celebrate its milestone anniversary with numerous year-round events, including the lecture series and a daylong career conference in March.

Anderson’s lecture, which will take place at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 15, in Bayard Sharp Hall, will examine his new book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life.

Best known for his award-winning book, Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City, which showed how the oppositional behavior of some urban residents is a reaction to the harsh environments in which they reside, his new book introduces the concept of the “cosmopolitan canopy” — public spaces in center-city Philadelphia that create islands of civility surrounded by ethnic enclaves, ghettos and suburbs where segregation is the norm.

In his new book, Anderson shows how the city’s racial and ethnic groups interact when they gather in parks, restaurants, shopping malls and other public spaces. Contrary to the assumptions of many, the interactions are mostly relaxed and cordial.

“Anderson’s ground-breaking study of the cosmopolitan canopy provides a new understanding of the complexities of present day race relations and reveals the unique opportunities for cross-cultural interaction,” says Leland Ware, the Louis L. Redding Chair and professor of law and public policy at SPPA.
Anderson, the William K. Lanman, Jr., Professor of Sociology at Yale University, is one of the premier urban ethnographers in the United States. He has served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and is formerly a vice-president of the American Sociological Association. He has also served as a consultant to a variety of government agencies, including the White House, the United States Congress, the National Academy of Science and the National Science Foundation.

The Nov. 15 lecture is free and open to the public.

Nicholas Lemann Discusses The Cosmopolitan Canopy in “Get Out of Town.” The New Yorker Magazine.

Nicholas Lemann Discusses The Cosmopolitan Canopy in “Get Out of Town.” The New Yorker Magazine.

Has the celebration of cities gone too far?
by Nicholas Lemann

ABSTRACT: A CRITIC AT LARGE about recent books on cities and urban planning. In the United States right now, after a long run of “urban crisis” (punctuated by periodic hopeful reports of revitalization), cities are viewed positively again. The veteran sociologist Elijah Anderson’s latest book, “newyorkercover” (Norton; $25.95), posits that there are certain venues in cities (Philadelphia is his example), such as public markets, where the races can come together temporarily without conflict. But he cautions against taking too much from this. He offers detailed, occasionally first-person descriptions of how racially charged life can be for an upper-middle-class black man when he ventures outside the cosmopolitan canopy.

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Elijah Anderson explores Philadelphia’s ‘cosmopolitan canopies’

Elijah Anderson explores Philadelphia’s ‘cosmopolitan canopies’

The “cosmopolitan canopy” in Rittenhouse Square. Photo courtesy of Elijah Anderson

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The latest census found Philadelphia the nation’s 9th most segregated metropolitan area in the United States. But there are still many places that bring people together, and it is those meeting grounds that Yale sociologist ELIJAH ANDERSON focuses on in his new book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life. From hospital waiting rooms to off-track betting parlors to Reading Terminal Market to Rittenhouse Square, Anderson’s research investigates the complex interplay in urban semi-public spaces in the city he previously explored in Code of the Street and Streetwise.

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Bridging Racial Divides In ‘Cosmopolitan Canopies’

Bridging Racial Divides In ‘Cosmopolitan Canopies’

In diverse cities across the nation many Americans have adopted a “pervasive wariness” of one another, says sociologist Elijah Anderson. In his book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Every Day Life, Anderson writes that too often, people “divert their gazes, looking up, looking down, or looking away, and feign ignorance of the diverse mix of strangers they encounter.”

But in Philadelphia’s Center City, Anderson, a professor of sociology at Yale University, has found a place that offers a respite from that well-ingrained wariness. The city’s Reading Terminal, with its bustling multi-ethnic market and busy lunch counters, offers a neutral space where all kinds of people feel comfortable enough to drop their usual defenses and interact with total strangers.

Which is exactly what happened to Anderson one afternoon at Reading Terminal’s Down Home Diner, where a man visiting from Sacramento “gets a pancake or two, sits down next to me, and we chat.” In a very short time, the man, who was white, told Anderson, who is African-American, that he “has friends who are white supremacists … And he’s amazed at the civility, the diversity, the wide range of different kinds of people he sees, and the civility that is palpable at the Terminal.”

It’s a mixed bag, but the one thing that characterizes this space is civility. Civility across racial lines.  – Elijah Anderson, sociologist