Eric Avila: The center cannot old (March 31, 2010)

Wes Jones begins his introduction with a comparison of invisible histories and visible histories, citing Michel Foucault’s “Other Spaces.” Jones outlines the research pursuits of Eric Avila, which encompass topics including cultural history, race and ethnicity, Chicano studies and the history of post-war urban and suburban development in Los Angeles.

Eric Avila reviews the development of downtown Los Angeles. He documents the reallocations of resource and capital in the early twentieth century, and the effects of these changes on the city. Avila explains the social and economic implications of the building of Los Angeles’ first City Hall. He discusses the effects of the Great Depression and the Second World War on the growth of the city, noting accelerated suburban decentralization.

Avila discusses the spatial context of film noir and its relationship to Los Angeles. Next, Avila reviews the construction of Dodger Stadium and it’s destruction of the surrounding urban context of Chavez Ravine. Avila critiques Mike Davis and Reyner Banham, especially their predictions of how Los Angeles will develop in the future. Avila expresses regret for the erasure of Los Angeles’ noir past, citing the recent re-development of downtown.

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