Edward LiPuma and Thomas Koelble “Cultures of Circulation and the Urban Imginary: Miami as Example and Exemplar

Miami’s proximity to  countries such as Cuba, Colombia, Haiti and Venezuela lends credence to the notion of LiPuma and Koelble that Miami is a post modern global city critical for the circulation of goods, people, services, and capital. The amount of people and goods that flow in and out of Miami is impressive. In any given month, about 3 million people, half of whom are classified as international travelers, enter and exit Miami. About 8 million tons of goods flow through the Port of Miami annually, making Miami a multiethnic, multicultural world city.

LiPuma and Koelble argue that a multi-cultural multi-ethnic city with international networks such as Miami has only become this exemplar city through urban imaginary, a narrative of the city’s contemporary and historical “story” that presents it as cohesive infrastructure. Miami politicians and the chamber of commerce would have one believe that Miami is a social totality, a stable, concrete city, rather than pluralities of multi-centric circulations. This imaginary identity has allowed Miami to grow as post modern global city.

Miami, an example of the postmodern city, is  pivotal for circulation of cultures via immigration, tourism, business travel, as well as vacationers and temporary residents. The authors state “Miami seems to function as an infrastructural platform for the flow of cultural forms through superimposed spatial planes that have literally no beginning or end.” In other words, Miami functions as a city of shifting identities with no definite governmental scale but rather scales defined more by the city’s interaction with multiple countries, primarily Latin and Caribbean countries. Miami is a web of unincorporated cities whereby each area functions in plurality rather than in totality. The authors argue that reasons for this are rather than shedding their home culture, immigrants and new residents retain their cultural identities and create a composite city made up of heterogeneous parts. Connectivity between each part of Miami is absent. Miami as a global city is more connected to external relationships with international cities, such as Mexico City, Havana and Bogota.

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