Response To John L. Jackson's Harlem World

677 Words3 Pages
In Harlem World, John L. Jackson provides a complex and fascinating view of modern Harlem through his urban ethnographic research. He states in his introduction that he seeks to make a case for how identities work and how, by constructing social spaces, people co-construct their social selves. More specifically, he uses his research “to argue that race and class are often given emphatically behavioral glosses in contemporary folk analysis of identity” (Jackson 2001:6). Jackson's work opposes the view that Harlem is merely an African American slum; it portrays a culturally (and economically) diverse neighborhood. Unlike Berdahl, Jackson is much more visible in his ethnography. Not only does he include interviews with multiple Harlemites, he includes his responses and questions throughout the book as well. He also discusses several of the circumstances surrounding his encounters with these individuals. By placing himself directly into the ethnography, the reader is able to see more clearly how he carried out his research methods and reached his conclusions. Throughout his narrative, Jackson concentrates on zones in Harlem where individuals must interact across class lines, what Jackson refers to as “spaces of coalescence.” From these spaces, Jackson was able to gather stories from a variety of people living in Harlem. Jackson uses eloquent and intelligent language to expound and develop social theories about life in Harlem but he doesn't stop there. Among the various research methods he employed in conducting his study, my favorite was his use of in-depth interviews. His work is full of dialogue with the people of Harlem and discussions on a variety of issues (mainly race and class). I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations he included in chapter five, entitled “White Harlem.” In this chapter, Jackson discusses how race is
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