City of Broken Dreams

City of Broken Dreams

Myth-Making, Nationalism and the University in an African Motor City

African History and Culture

by Leslie J. Bank

Published by: Michigan State University Press

358 pages, 7.00 x 10.00 in

  • ISBN: 9781611863451
  • Published: February 2019



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What role should universities have in revitalizing rust-belt motor cities left to decay by economic and political transformation? In City of Broken Dreams, author Leslie J Bank addresses this question through a detailed case study of East London, a city in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Here, as in American motor cities like Detroit and Flint, the car’s cultural power and association with the endless possibilities of modernity lie at the heart of the refusal to seek alternative development paths leading away from racially inscribed automotive capitalism. Rooting the university in a history of industrialisation, placemaking and city-building, this book examines contemporary debates about the role that urban universities should have in building economies, creating jobs and reshaping the politics and identities of their communities. In South Africa as in many other nations, institutions of higher education represent potentially powerful cultural and socioeconomic agents, but the 2015 #FeesMustFall student protests against rising tuition costs highlighted the limits of their power. Firmly grounded in the particulars of East London, this thoughtful study illuminates questions common to rust-belt cities and universities around the world.