Culture Works addresses and critiques an important dimension of the “work of culture,” an argument made by enthusiasts of creative economies that culture contributes to the GDP, employment, social cohesion, and other forms of neoliberal development. While culture does make important contributions to national and urban economies, the incentives and benefits of participating in this economy are not distributed equally, due to restructuring that neoliberal policies have wrought from the 1980s on, as well as long-standing social structures, such as racism and classism, that breed inequality. The cultural economy promises to make life better, particularly in cities, but not everyone can take advantage of it for decent jobs.
Exposing and challenging the taken-for-granted assumptions around questions of space, value and mobility that are sustained by neoliberal treatments of culture, Culture Works explores some of the hierarchies of cultural workers that these engender, as they play out in a variety of settings, from shopping malls in Puerto Rico and art galleries in New York to tango tourism in Buenos Aires. Noted scholar Arlene Dávila brilliantly reveals how similar dynamics of space, value and mobility come to bear in each location, inspiring particular cultural politics that have repercussions that are both geographically specific, but also ultimately global in scope.
1 Ideologies of Consumption and the Business of Shopping Malls in Puerto Rico
2 Authenticity and Space in Puerto Rico’s Culture-Based Informal Economy
3 The Battle for Cultural Equity in the Global Arts Capital of the World
4 The Trials of Building a National Museum of the American Latino
5 Through Commerce, for Community: Miguel Luciano’s Nuyorican Interventions
6 Tango Tourism and the Political Economy of Space
7 Urban/Creative Expats: Outsourcing Lives in Buenos Aires
Conclusion: The Cultural Politics of Neoliberalism
About the Author
"Culture Works looks deeply into and beyond the current rhetoric on art with an acuity and sense of irony and understanding of the realpolitiks that are all too rare in the cultural policy literature. Professor Dávila has given us a brilliant introduction and guide to the complex interactions of art, markets, politics, and community in the first part of the 21st century."-Paul DiMaggio,author of Nonprofit Enterprise in the Arts
"Culture Works challenges us to think critically about Latino/a culture and the men and women who create it every day. From shopping malls in Puerto Rico to art galleries in East Harlem and tango palaces in Bueños Aires, Arlene Dávila shows us the underbelly of a global political economy that gorges itself on authentic cultural forms and grinds them down into commodities. Dávila’s understanding of these complex forces illuminates the connections between all creative landscapes and the elites who try to mold them to their political will."-Sharon Zukin,author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places
"The author effectively dissects the contradictory and often deleterious impact of neoliberal development in promoting inequalities of race, class, and nationality, while at the same time encoding and keying the value of Latin American folk art traditions and cultural economies...highly recommended for all academic levels/libraries."-CHOICE