Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



In the post-industrial American city, the question of what urban space means seems far less important then how it is lived through the dynamic struggles of city dwellers to claim these spaces as their own. These struggles to define urban space are not always overtly political and thus must be examined through the more everyday, sometimes unconscious practices of city dwellers. This thesis attempts to valorize the emotional work of cities through an ethnographic study of Coney Island, Brooklyn. Coney Island is examined first as an urban space which allows tourists to move beyond traditional practices of visual consumption, then as a unique public space of playful bodies and finally, as a space of remembering where absence in the built landscape allows visitors to insert their own imaginings. Through a proliferation of everyday practices and imaginings in less regulated city spaces like Coney Island, established meanings of the city are challenged and reconstructed. City dwellers subvert the aesthetic rationality of the planned city through their sensory experience. Thus, the textual city becomes illegible.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Miles Richardson