moving right along, part 4

well i read my conclusion, from last time, and i think once upon a time i had more to add, but i did an ok job there. a couple newish items or summaries of the problem:

these two ideas of the city are distortions in a few senses.

  1. east-west and north-south don’t gel with actual migration. they are approximations of the routes people took that obscure the racial associations assigned to each migration.  for example discussing the Great Migration as north-south in regards to cinci is pure wrong. the majority of cinci migrants came from VA, KY, and other Upland South places thanks to those mechanical harvesters.  This is NOT a north-south migration; it’s more east-west.  there’s even about a 1 sq mile chunk of northern VA where you could migrate to cinci from and be headed southerly (cf. google earthly)
  2. coming in with this, these encompassing migration narratives obscure underlapping events.  the appalachian migration to cinci is probably the most popular example (appalachian is a way of saying white Upland southerners right? which would mean they were [in some very limited cases] neighbors of black people who moved here at the same time —— which is an interesting way to think of the trajectories people get sucked into when they migrate somewehre). i think some article i have around calls it “the hidden migration”. another maybe more relevant example: the post civil war migrations of eastern and southern europeans, whose “heritage” gets completely eaten up and subsumed as part of this effort to repackage cinci’s german population for tourist purposes.  i’m being a little pissy but cincinnati wasn’t german for a long time (from 1915-1975ish [Oktoberfest Zinzinnati as we know it started in 1976 { ..hell }]), then the mid-america urban economy went to absolute shit, and downtown/history had to be repackaged for tourist purposes.  we are about as GERMAN as Leavenworth (i exaggerate, but cinci makes grander claims). Or another concurrent example: the german reform jewish migration eats the eastern european orthodox migrations and elides those historical tensions and prejudices. in sum, these narratives hide a lot of migrations (and associated issues) – and the selective community-wide acknowledgements we make of certain migrations can contribute to obfuscating cinci’s heritage instead of celebrating it. yawn yawn yawn. let me get off my high horse.
  3. FINAL point (egh) – subsuming the experiences of people into into specific (spatial) migration narratives just isn’t very accurate (this is a poor poor reason; i don’t think scientific accuracy is that uplifting; but i am too rushed to make up some socio-political outrage).  here is a quote lifted from bunch-lyons (2002)::::: “In a way Cincinnati was kind of like down south.  Most of the people I met were from the South.  If they weren’t from the South, they had kinfolk who were.  To me the worst part about living in the West End was that there weren’t no trees” (125). ::::::  i used this quote in a paper to contradict bunch-lyons reliance on north-south essentialism.  because look at it (i don’t even remember why she included it, some kind of tip of the hat to something)! the north is the south for starters – but what really freaks this lady out is moving from rural/suburban/exurban to urban! and is this so experientially different from the HUGE rural migration within the south to places like Birmingham?  (although would a white appalachian say the same thing? maybe yes maybe no?) there are cascading nodes of transitions/breaks occuring in an one person’s migration.  these two migration narratives cinci has, east-west and north-south, tend to reduce that down to a simple version (which i’m not saying reduction isn’t useful; but this reduction muscles out other reductions).

and the conclusion to my conclusion: migration narratives are prepared in advance, and then filled in (while other migrations might be missed or passed over as we wait/fulfill these migration narratives).  cinci was prepping for the Great Migration since the Civil War began.  truelogism.  now cinci is preparing for a hispanic migration i’d think, just in the way people anticipate or particularize experiences in the city.  other stuff is going on and it is missing.  i spent twenty minutes arguing with my mother that the movement of south asian to cincinnati can be considered a cohesive migration, with low density neighborhood concentrations, etc AND IS NOT some monadistic scattershot accident.

all of this is kind of heads-up i guess.  don’t get trapped into thinking cincinnati is the result of some recipe; “start with ex-revolutionary soldiers; mix with germans and irish; let sit; then fold in african-americans from the south”. the process of a city “becoming”, is a whole lot more than migration, no matter what the census people say.

no pictures; well maybe some pictures of points 1-3 later.


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