Wood, Phil and Charles Landry. The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Carter, Tom
Pub Date: 06/22/2009
Publication: Name: Canadian Journal of Urban Research Publisher: Institute of Urban Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Institute of Urban Studies ISSN: 1188-3774
Issue: Date: Summer, 2009 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 1
Topic: NamedWork: The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Wood, Phil; Landry, Charles
Accession Number: 229218937
Full Text: Wood, Phil and Charles Landry.

The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage.

London: Earthscan, 2008.

368 pp.

ISBN: 139781844074365.

From a Canadian perspective this book is very timely. Immigration policy in Canada continues to promote relatively high levels of immigration from a growing number of source countries, and the diversity of new arrivals is constantly increasing. Traditionally, up to 75 percent of new arrivals to Canada settled in one of Canada's three tier one cities: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. However, many smaller cities in Canada are now becoming the destination of greater numbers of new arrivals.

For those interested in how this increasing ethnic and racial diversity is having an impact on cities there is no better read than The Intercultural City. The book explores the challenges and opportunities associated with this phenomenon around the world. Globally, there have never been more people on the move, be they immigrants, asylum seekers, displaced persons and refugees, foreign students and tourists. Most of this movement is focused on the world's cities. Growing diversity is inevitable.

However, cities face some significant problems coping with this growing level of diversity, and these are discussed in detail, drawing on both historical and contemporary examples. The destabilizing effects of the arrival of so many people often in isolating and inward-looking ghettos, and the racism sometimes faced by newcomers, are just some of the problems noted. While not diminishing the difficulties cities face as diversity increases, the authors argue that diversity should be embraced because an enriched cultural environment provides opportunity and encourages investment, competitiveness and innovation. In short, diversity makes economic, social and cultural sense.

The challenge for cities with intercultural societies is to successfully overcome conflict and avoid the problems often associated with isolation in ghettos that can lead to suspicion, even open hostility, such as was the case with the 2001 race riots in Britain. Cities must work to develop rules of engagement and a set of civic values to live by and encourage continuous dialogue to deal with differences.

The real meat of the book lies in its attempt to discover ways that planning and community development practices related to such areas as housing, public spaces, arts, sports and education can be modified to facilitate the dialogue necessary to meet these challenges. What role can housing play? How best to plan public spaces that are conducive to interaction to break down barriers of suspicion? How do cities create the opportunity for inter-cultural dialogue? How can we celebrate diversity but avoid the worst outcomes of segregation and ghettoization? As the authors note, city making and city management must work toward "bridging and mixing" approaches, and they offer many useful best practices from a range of cities that have had to cope with growing diversity.

The authors are also not afraid to challenge the basic policy approaches to integration and re-settlement of immigrants--the policy of multiculturalism, for example. Drawing on the British experience, the discussion questions the effectiveness of multiculturalism as there are those in Britain who feel the focus is too much on the 'multi' and too little on the 'common.' This raises the issue of whether people should be able to choose a life of self-segregation and how cities can promote integration that binds societies together but does not stifle cultural identities and differences.

In their conclusion, the authors acknowledge that there is no uniform model cities can use to manage diversity. They do, however, provide very useful ten steps to intercultural city policy that planners, municipal officials, mayors, councillors and community organizations working with new arrivals will find very useful. The approaches suggested are practical and well-researched with many examples of best practices.

This much-needed addition to the literature is a very timely book on a topic of interest to cities around the world. It is a must- read for those involved in city planning, community development and urban policy.

Tom Carter

Canada Research Chair in Urban Change and Adaptation

and Professor of Geography

The University of Winnipeg
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.