Book Review: Compiling Maxwell Street

Review by Nirmal Puwar

Review Essay of Maxwell Street: Writing and Thinking Place (2019) by Tim Cresswell, University of Chicago Press.

Tim Cresswell is Ogilvie Professor of Geography at the University of Edinburgh. He completed a doctorate in geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison under the supervision of Yi-Fu Tuan (1992) In 2013 he also finished a practice-led doctorate in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, under the supervision of award winning poet, Jo Shapcott. Cresswell is a leading cultural geographer whose research focusses on the role of mobility, place, and space in the constitution of social and cultural worlds. In addition to Maxwell Street: Writing and Thinking Place Cresswell is the author, co-author or co-editor of several books including,  Place: An Introduction (2014), On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World (2006) and Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects (2011). As a poet he is the author of two collections: Soil (2103) and Fence (2015) which continue his explorations of place and mobility. He is co-editor of the American Association of Geographers journal GeoHumanities: Space, Place, and the Humanities.

Some books arrive at just the right time, Maxwell Street took a couple of months to reach my home in Coventry (U.K) from the U.S, where it has been published by Chicago University Press. I have never started writing a book review with tears in my eyes. Cresswell’s Maxwell Street has struck a few chords with me, due to how place, memory, loss and change have been materialising and recomposing around me as people and environments.

I have been finding ways to re-inhabit a city I was born in, grew up in and left to study in the bright lights of London in 1986. Although in recent years, I travelled from London to Coventry bi-weekly to see my elderly mother, eventually I felt too troubled to stay away from her as her health fluctuated. In 2016 I moved back, with my partner and daughter, to live in my ‘home’ city Coventry once again, in order to be close to my ailing mother. I had thought I would be lucky to have three months with her but managed to have three years, with several months of her last year spent in hospital. Curled up like a baby in a pink night dress she took her last breath at home, with my nephew by her side in the night on 16th April 2016.  Whilst one might say I/we should be grateful for this time, after all she was 98 years of age when she passed, I still wish she was here with us, as we watch the city changing and altering in different directions. Since her passing I have been trying to re-find my feet on this earth and most immediately in this city, without her. It is taking a while to find my bearings since her passing. Her loss has prompted me to look at places across time and to consider my own purpose in place. I have been trying to both re-purpose and re-route my paths in the city. This has included realising I am most likely becoming something kin to being a Writer As Resident.

This book review has been written between different locations along a one mile stretch between the city centre and my house. I read the book, whilst I have sat and looked over the under-used and thus underappreciated Lady Herbert Gardens, from the cafe of the Herbert Art Gallery, where my father worked as an attendant in the seventies, after retiring from Ford. I first started actually writing the words for the review whilst I sat in the vegan cafe The POD, a sustainable locally sourced or produced food project with an allotment and mental health ethics intimately tied to connecting and cultivating through sharing time and skills via a Time Union and Food Union.  The POD sits on a site, which in my childhood of the seventies and eighties, was a dilapidated grocery shop run by an elder white woman whose shop we steered away from due to her glaring inhospitality towards South Asians who entered the shop, as well as what my mother referred to, with good humour, as her rotten stock of vegetables which were as miserable as the woman running the shop. The POD sits in a twelfth century building, which was renovated along with a number of other buildings on the same street, as part of a heritage development to recognise the first high street in the city. Weighing scales from the previous life of the shop sit in the window, a material heritage gesture to what it was. Cresswell states that “Places are where things (but also memories, emotions, discourse, etc.) gather.” (p.170). The POD has recomposed my relationship to the site, generating new scenes for developing acquaintances amongst the emergence of slow friendship in its contact zone of quiet activism and cultivation. New habituations and practices take shape. Places don’t stay still, they are always becoming. It is the nature of this becoming that is at stake for those who track places as photographers, writers and most of all residents. How you exist in the place of observation – as a passer-by, a short or long term resident, impacts on how you engage with the place. Fleeting, immersive or auto-ethnographic field-work, in the social science sense, produces different contact zones of being there, wherever this may be. Cresswell asserts:

One way in which places compel engagements is through the interaction of material structure, representation, and practice. Not simply things to look at, places provide the context for existence. We have to move through them and embody them. Whereas a book can be read, a place has to be inhabited.

(p.139)

I am inhabiting Coventry in the lead up buzz towards UK City of Culture 2021, which is generating potentialities across different networks and connections, alongside a healthy cynicism for the announced branded principles and visually multicultural bill boards used to sell the city.  Simultaneously, a care for civic places is rapidly falling away and giving way to the encroaching neo-liberal spirit of municipal governance, amidst central government austerity cuts. Everyday public life is easily witnessed as full of neglect and a disregard for whatever is being discarded. At the same time, the death of the public university has accelerated the levers of the entrepreneurial university too. Coventry University’s tentacles are largely stretching from the centre outwards across the city, with little responsibility or care for neighbourhoods and citizens. An accelerated financialization and subsequent rent-ification of streets close to the university is continuing with the city council providing no civic checks on the everyday spill over of this commercially driven expansion. As the development of private companies seeking fast cash occurs unabated from rental properties for university students, especially those who pay exorbitant overseas fees, there are persistent rumblings of resistance too. Sitting in the middle of high rise developments, a hand-written note inside the door of Gosford Books, a second-hand store, states:

THE 16-STOREY TOWER BLOCK NOW OVERSHADOWING THE SURVIVING FRAGMENT OF HISTORIC GOSFORD STREET WILL SOON HAVE AN EVEN MORE MONSTROUS 18-STOREY NEIGHBOUR – BOTH STUDENT ACCOMMODATION, OF COURSE. FOR THE REST OF 2019 – AS BUILDING WORK CONTINUES WITH THE CONCOMITANT NOISE ETC. – THE BOOKSHOP WILL OPEN LATER, AND MAY BE CLOSED FOR SEVERAL DAYS AT A TIME.

(copied on 20th Aug 2019 from Gosford Books)

In Maxwell Street: Writing and Thinking Place the expansion of the university is at the very core of the gradual displacement of a market in Chicago, which started in 1880 and existed for over a century. As is the depletion and de-valuing of the area by influential experts, planners, heritage specialists and policy makers. Within this macro, broadly speaking, Marxist analysis of place, Cresswell delivers a detailed phenomenological register of the market. The book is a story of what gathered in the market, as smells, objects, people and buildings, as well as of how it was both valued and de-valued. Over time the market has been shifted and shunted, making way for university and private corporate developments. The University of Illinois looms large in the eventual fate of the market. Maxwell Street is now etched as a bit part in the heritage making of a university, with the two signs “University Village” and “Marketplace” placed together. New and older periods of property align the vicinity, labelled University Village by developers. As is commonplace in the UK too, hyper diversity is plastered on billboards which wrap around building sites aimed at private sales. A museumification of what the market was, as North America’s largest open-air market, exists in the small announcements of statues and plaques. Cresswell reminds us that this was “a place of cosmopolitan poverty” (p.21), a dense mingling and settling of migrants from Europe (Irish, German and Dutch) as well as from the East and South of the USA. By 1912 it was a recognised official market by the city council, comprising of open stalls, peddler’s carts and subsequently shops with outlets. Culturally it became a hub for different ethnic groups,  including becoming a centre of Chicago Blues by the 1940’s, alongside the sale of diverse products, such as zoot suits and Polish foods. Treating Maxwell Street as an assemblage of multiple trajectories, Cresswell gathers aesthetics, materiality, narrative, performance, waste, the senses, value, memory, the blues and tax increment financing and more. Over time, across a series of urban developments, including ‘urban renewal’ in 1957, to make way for an expressway and the expansion of University of Illinois, the market has been sliced up, reduced and moved. He figures place as a “syncretic combination of diverse elements that form place through their relations in a particular locale.” (p.172).

Readers will recognise similar ethnographic descriptions of other markets, such as Ridley Road market in Food and Multiculture: A Sensory Ethnography of East London (2017) by Alex Rhys-Taylor or, Deptford Market by Les Back and Dawn Lyon (2012). Markets and especially flea markets are gatherings, layers and intensities of worlds, objects, languages, smells, atmospheres and juxtapositions in metropoles. There is an increasing displacement of these markets due to the capital capture of land for private property developments. In the instance of Maxwell Street this includes the entrepreneurial tentacles of university expansionism.

There are three parts to Maxwell Street, with: the first part (19 pages) reflecting on what it is to write about place; the second part (145 pages), which is the bulk of the book, comprises of what Cresswell refers to as local theory consisting of a detailed discussion of the market; and the third part (36 pages) is described as a meso-theory. In one respect, the compilation of the book reverses the academic genre for ordering writing, by placing theoretical reflections towards the latter part of the book. The theoretical charge of the book does not start the book, rather it emerges in the last (short) chapter. But of course the theoretical basis breathes across the writing of the book. The format of the book is worth reflecting on. Although it is not mentioned, the layout is similar to A Seventh Man which contains photographs taken by Jean Mohr encircled by texts from influential sources (such as Karl Marx or policy statistics), side-by-side with the analytic prose of Jean Berger. It reminds one of Dolores Hayden’s classic text Power of Place, which is referred to. Not surprisingly the book takes inspiration from Walter Benjamin’s style of montage in The Arcades Project, as well as the notion of a “common place” book, from Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines and William Least Heat-Moon’s PriaryErth, with Maxwell Street market becoming Cresswell’s Paris arcades. Archival photographs and diagrams, as well as Cresswell’s photographs are laid out across the pages of the book alongside large extracts from scholars of place, memory and archive in general, with the words of people who have, in different capacities and genres, written about Maxwell Street. The compilation of the book makes an argument through the very practice of how texts are laid out on a page. For example, a double page includes large quotes from Roland Barthes, the Chicago Daily News and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. In fact, the cited selections exceed the space granted to Cresswell’s own words.

Writing has been a method for Cresswell, one which has unexpectedly involved a PhD in creative writing and publishing as a poet, whilst undertaking courses in creative writing. We visit and re-visit places at different points of our life journeys. Paratactic writing of lists as combinations and contradictions of objects in places fill the pages in a non-linear mode of describing place. The book has taken Cresswell over ten years to write, although he first encountered Maxwell Street as a doctorate student taking coffee in Steep and Brew, in 1987. He notes how some years later, he read James Gilbert’s book Perfect Cities: Chicago’s Utopias of 1893, which is a consideration of the ideal ways to create order in the city, to which he wanted to talk back to by depicting the disorder, imperfections and impurity of places. Initially, he was inspired to focus on Maxwell Street market, as one such place, after having conversations with his father in-law who recalled a mingling of foods, music, ethnicities and ‘races’, when he was taken to the street as a child to have a suit made by a Jewish tailor. Aside from this autobiographical note, interestingly it is only towards the very latter part of the book, when Cresswell offers an account of the kind of gatherer, collector, gleaner and writer he has himself become, with respect to the market. Two thirds of the way through the book we are offered a closer sense of what the project means to Cresswell, when he states:

My consideration of the archiving of Maxwell Street is informed by those who urge us to give due care and attention to the things people push to one side and ignore, the things that do not make it into official places of memory.

(p.145)

Cresswell is drawn towards a “rescue archaeology” of the performativity of objects and places which are otherwise seen as worthless, waste or transient in different regimes of value. Foregrounding the practise of gleaning in France, he positions himself as a gleaner. The re-use of what is left-over can be an uncomfortable reminder of the marginal, as was the case in the reaction to the exhibiting of Francois Millet’s painting in 1857 of The Gleaners. The theme of waste collectors and livelihoods in the depiction is referenced directly and updated by the feminist film maker Agnes Varda, in The Gleaners and I (2000), when she looks at those who collect potatoes left as waste because they are not classified to be the right shape for market supplies. Cresswell notes that gleaning “produces a kind of inverse archive” (p.152). Those who gathered items to sell on the market were gleaners of sorts. Furthermore by placing himself in his project he states:

I too have been a gleaner of information about Maxwell Street for much of the past decade, as I have eaten tamales at the market, strolled the streets of the area, and talked to the various gleaners of Maxwell Street things I have encountered…My focus is on those who tried to value what was left over and what was destroyed in the process.

(p.153)

As well as visiting official archives, personal private archives and being a participant observer himself, the words of other writers on the market, from a range of professions, is central to what Cresswell has collected. Besides there is already a large body of literature which has storied the market. He approaches writing as not a writing up process but “part of the process of relating to place-not just a record of it.” (p.3). In a context when there has been a revival in place based writing and in creative experimental non-fiction, he reflects on how he in his practice “performs a description of descriptions-an account of a place over a hundred years through the descriptions of others.” Noting how  “descriptions are themselves kinds of performances-they act on place as much as they account for it” (p.6), Cresswell compiles the book from the vast archive of imagery of Maxwell Street, produced through words and photographs. The contribution of the book is in the reflections upon how we write and image places, just as much as it is in the detail of the lives observed, of for instance “Daddy Stovepipe”, a musician who started performing in the market in 1948 or chicken man (“Casey Jones”), who entertained with a chicken perched on his head and featured in the film And he is Free.

The argument of the book is made through the spatial contiguity of descriptions, which like Benjamin’s montage, are purposely laid side-by-side. Cresswell riffs on how places are also full of spatial arrangements and situates his writing as a topopoetics, an exercise in material rhetorical practice that is place making. The writing is presented as a “spiral”, by gently “moving in and around, engaging the same location from different perspectives.” (p.13).  Across a hundred years, from the 1880s onwards, Maxwell Street has a large archive of writing and image making, provided by journalists, poets, novelists, planners, philosophers, social workers as well as photographers, creators Cresswell heavily draws upon, for his compilation. Even though these depictions of the market were produced for different purposes and audiences, Cresswell finds thematic commonalities.

Charles Zeublin, the Chicago sociologist in 1895, described Maxwell Street as a ghetto. In 1946 Simone De Beauvoir was escorted to Maxwell Street market, as an essential sightseeing spot, by the Chicago writer, Nelson Algren, with whom she was in a relationship with.  Cresswell cites De Beauvoir’s essay America Day by Day 69 for providing one of the most “artful” depictions. Here are a few of her lines:

Superstitions, science, religion, food, physical and spiritual remedies, rags, silks, popcorn, guitars, radios – what an extraordinary mix of all the civilizations and races that have existed throughout time and space. In the hands of merchants, preachers, and charlatans, the snares sparkle and the street is full of the chatter of thousands of brightly feathered birds.

(cited in Cresswell, p.27).

Cresswell observes how a range of writers, many of whom were “slumming it” by visiting Maxwell Street market, repeat a style of prose used by De Beauvoir, replete with paratactic combinations, lists, sensory observations and references to the ‘exotic’ places elsewhere, including the bodies of different ethnicities in one place. Food, cloth, objects, rubbish, music, a mix of smells and people are sighted together, with the content of these items changing over time in accordance with shifts in migrations to and away from the area. There is a “taxidermy of categorization” in the very juxtaposing elements of the lists, which are borne together for effect. Such as the placing together of lipstick and the smell of garlic. List making is a long-standing method of assembling a place (Georges Perec, for instance). The ordering of statements from lists produces affects of places. For instance, throughout time, rubbish, waste, noxious smells, noise and hazard continue to be paired up together, in the depictions of the market. Those who document choose what to expose and expand, with some focusing on squalor, deviance and the lack of moral discourse amongst the poor of the city, associated with a global amalgam of the dirty other.

Willard Motley’s writings and novels feature regularly, across the labels. Motley is also situated with ethnography and the Chicago School of Sociology, since “there was a strong relationship between black realist literature in Chicago and the sociologists at the University of Chicago.” (p.43). Motley kept detailed diaries of the people and places, whilst also coming to live and participate in the life of the area. Motley’s writings are an exercise in painstaking ethnography, without being authorised as proper ethnography by the white male middle class figures of the Chicago School. The literary quality seeped into the academic descriptions of place, as did the observational techniques of the novelists. There are of course different ways in which one can be a writer as resident. Indeed I have situated myself as one such figure in Coventry, what makes me different from novelists or journalists who live in the city, is actually the fact that I am ‘trained’ as a sociologist, which is coupled with the fact that I was born in the city, left and temporarily came back. How we stay, leave and return effects the kind of bearings we establish in a place, as do our disciplinary trainings. Motley saw Maxwell Street as a neighbourhood that was a “storehouse for a writer.” (cited p.43). One could certainly see Coventry as a storehouse for a sociologist interested in capital, austerity, cultural markets and globalisation. I see all these elements circulating in the recompositions and decompositions of the city, whilst I write from being in the middle of a life journey linked to the city. Thus writers take their moorings in different ways to the places they write from. Motley gives life to the ways in which the place of Maxwell Street was performed, in the “interplay between the choreographies of people going about their lives and the things (including the relatively fixed landscape) that surrounds them…” (p.46). Granting detailed attention to the ways in which characters make the place with the objects offers a place based theatricality. Observers of marginal sites come with the analytic traps of an ethnographic middle class, bourgeois fascinated gaze with the creativity and colour of marginality and the place of the other, Maxwell Street is one such place. Cresswell points out that any assessment of Motley’s gaze would need to take into account his position as a black outsider to both the literacy and academic worlds, whilst being a relative insider to the area. Thus having a novelistic gaze that was quite apart from educated white outsiders studying what they approached as the “dark underbelly of the city” (p.48). Cresswell mentions how “entangled and ambiguous politics of different forms of gaze” are presented in Motley’s notebooks. The phrase “rubberneckers” for instance, are mentioned by Motley, a phrase coined from the 1880s’ to encapsulate voyeurs, such as tourists, who crane their necks to take a look in at poor, urban landscapes and vibrant lives. The rubberneckers were not only individual writers, travellers or artists, they were also organised as groups who travelled on an automobile with a man holding a megaphone whilst conducting tours of the area. This form of starring, did not bode well with the locals, Cresswell mentions by citing from Motley’s novel, how the youth would even throw food at the buses of rubberneckers. The politics of looking never leaves the academic drawing board; we have to be constantly wary of never rubber stamping a rubbernecking student or research project.

Archives of the documentation of cities can sit in the most unlikely places. Cresswell is introduced to the thousands of negatives of Vivian Maier, a nanny who travelled 25 miles from a Chicago suburb in the 1960s to the city to take photographs regularly on Thursdays and Sundays, sometimes with the child she was looking after. By 2009, she had amassed at least 150,000 images and other related items, including a diary of her days of travelling in to Chicago. An exhibition from selections of the archive were exhibited in 2013 at the Chicago History Museum, including photographs of Maxwell Street market.

Cresswell notes that markets feature prominently in street photography, and can also be levers of innovation. Refreshingly, Creswell does not fall into the dichotomy of representation and post-representational debates. He locates photography as a practice that is performative, live, active and an event, with a multiplicity of meanings. Photography operates as a way of engaging with a place, creating imaginative geographies. The people who sell their wares and perform their talents in the market are not unaware of the street photographer. Photographers are part of the audience to whom they perform, as a part of being in Maxwell Street market. Cresswell takes us through some of the characters and scenes across time, using photographic and documentary imagery of the word. Cresswell pays attention to the photographic shots taken of the market by Nathan Lerner, a well known photographer and academic educator of photography. Lerner was brought up by Ukranian-Jewish parents who migrated to the area in 1905 and he himself was born a few blocks away from Maxwell Street, before he went on to study at the New Bauhaus. Interestingly, Cresswell notes that Lerner’s photography can’t be categorised as documentary, street or only art photography. The depictions of Maxwell Street are much more multi-dimensional, with close-up attention to the detail of objects, light and faces. Hence we see hats in a crowd, close-up views of products for sale, such as potatoes or shoes, as well as mannequin busts. These are not too far apart, Creswell observes, from the surrealist fascination with photographing masks, mannequins and corsets. Lerner is seen to be jostling between art and documentary photography, in order to not only evidence but rather to see that which is photographed differently. Citing Susan Sontag, Cresswell notes that the world of found objects transforms junk into art (p.82). He also calls upon the notion of thing-power from Jane Bennett, another one of his citation sources, to note the enchantment of objects amongst photographers, especially with objects which are treated as trash or waste. He altogether notes: “…the profusion of objects and their unlikely juxtapositions proved a rich source of images that made the everyday life at the bottom end of retail geography marvellous.” (p.85).

Cresswell points out that depictions of place, can value and de-value place. Writers, filmmakers and photographers have valued Maxwell Street, “as a place to slum it for a day [or] …a place to find surreal juxtaposition, picturesque poverty, and constant drama” (p.93). Measures of value also critically entered heritage equations which took place between policy makers, heritage advisors and advocates for the lives of the market. Artists who re-used and re-cycled scrap and items from the market, added a different value, through trash art. The technology of how places are mapped as they were and will become, is a powerful form of measuring and valuing. Cresswell points out that maps “are far from passive, and their representational power is itself a kind of doing.” (p.102). Thus agencies such as the Institute of Urban Life making a place through how they recorded Maxwell Street. The area was often depicted as being blighted and seen to lack historic value. Heritage assessments contributed to enabling the University of Illinois of Chicago to spread south, in accordance with strategic master plans for expansion of the university. Cresswell comments on how “obliging” local authorities of the City of Chicago District Development both encircled the sale of properties in the area to the University and also started demolishing properties labelled, via the technologies of planners,  as “blighted”.  Maxwell Street market sat as an inconvenient blot in the landscape towards expansion.

Following on from David Harvey’s concept of “creative destruction”, Cresswell notes how acts of territorialisation and de-territorialisation are part of a process whereby assets which are de-valued become derelict, only to be captured by new capital plans. The mapping of the city, through diagrams, words and images, is an essential and integral part of the production of current and future visions of places and crucially of “flows of value” (p.112). In this case, as in California and other places, the financial instrument of TIF (Tax Increment Financing), operated as a force of development/displacement. Maps provide “a lexicon of meaning” to define the present and meanings for an imagined future place (p.132). Thus areas and buildings defined as failed and blighted become sites for real estate abstract financialization. Looking across time, Cresswell observes that:

 There is a long history of attempts to straighten out the market that combine aesthetics with regulation. The aesthetics of Maxwell Street were a constant source of contestation. To some, Maxwell Street’s apparent disorder was appealing evidence of authentic urbanity. To others it was a thorn in the side, an impediment to the production of an ideal Chicago – a safe place for capital and the people who controlled it.

(p.120)

While writers, photographers and artists saw the market as an aesthetically rich place, full of artful practices, merchantile history and ‘poor’ ethnic cosmopolitanism, others wanted to tame it through the imposition of an eligibility of a visual and olfactory uniformity to order the disorder of imagery, smells and sounds.

In 1994 the market was moved to Canal Street and then moved again in 2008 to Desplaines Street. Resistance against the university’s attempt to demolish the area was met from a group of grassroots campaigners, which included market enthusiasts, stall holders and a coalition of blues musicians. The blues singer Jimmie Lee Robinson went on a hunger strike for eighty-one days, in protest against the demolition of buildings. The letters, theatre practices, music concerts and political pamphlets now constitute an archive of the movement against the university’s plans to level the area. The Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition, persistently struggled to prevent the erasure of the market activities and the area around it, still small victories prevailed. Thirteen facades from Maxwell Street were valued and deemed to have “integrity” in the narrow sense of material objects being indicators of authenticity from a period deemed significant (1880-1944), by the authorising National Register of Historic Places. But two attempts by the coalition to have the market placed on the register were rejected. Cresswell follows the details of the motions, documents and value judgements assigned to the material buildings and market practices. Fluidity of movement and objects, as well as changes to the materiality of buildings counted against the evidence for historic integrity. Yet it was the flow and mixture that made the place what it was.

Today, references to the history of the place and the market constitute a heritage captured to sell modern apartments, as part of a university neighbourhood renewal project. A large section of the area where the market resided, is designated an area for a campus forest, connected to the university’s ‘Climate Action Plan’ and is also part of a ‘Tree Campus Network’. Cresswell makes the link between whiteness, class and greenery, pointing out that: “In the case of the UIC campus, the arrival of trees coincides temporally with decreasing numbers of black people and increasing property values.” (p.128).

Key players in the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition, such as Lori Grove (author of Chicago’s Maxwell Street) “scavenged and gleaned” items from the market stalls, as well as from the rubble after the university’s demolition of the area. Grove used her professional museum skills to order, label and safely store items in a storage facility, with the hope they will one day enter a regime of value which will enable them to be part of a permanent home. A more disorderly or “kitsch archive” but one that relays a “radical and loving” relationship to Maxwell Street market, is found in Steve Balkin’s packed house of items from the area.  There are also boxes of documents which provide archival evidence of the protests Balkin was involved in with the Coalition (p.159). Cultural value in different regimes of value thus continues to be re-packed, re-packaged and assembled across sites and markets, including amongst the new residents who live or buy property in university village and are partly drawn to the area due to the multi-ethnic heritage mix of the market and the area. The earlier lives of the market continue to be storied. Hence, as Cresswell urges:

The copresence of stability and change in a place like Maxwell Street makes place’s connection to memory and the past all the more complicated. The materiality of place has the most obvious connections to memory and memoralization. The material nature of buildings and roads and passageways means that they endure – not forever, perhaps, but for considerable passages of time. This endurance provides an anchor for stories that circulate in and around place. It reminds us of things…

(p.136)

Nirmal Puwar is  Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths. She wrote ‘Space Invaders: race, gender and bodies out of place’ (2004) and has co-edited 18 collections, including ‘Live Methods’ , ‘Post-colonial Bourdieu’, ‘Intimacy in Research’ and ‘Fashion Theory and Orientalism’. She has collaborated on a range of creative public projects, outside the matrix of impact/public engagement. Currently, as Writer As Resident, she is writing a book on Recompositions, on civic cares, place, change and memory. Twitter: Spatialmutation

Puwar would like to thank Charlotte Bates, Reviews Editor of The Sociological Review, for her warm reception of this review essay, as well as for her editing.

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