Bigger Stadiums, Better Futures? The Cultural Politics of Difference and Civic Identity in Postwar Urban Imaginaries


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


American Studies and Ethnicity


This dissertation approaches stadiums as political, economic, and cultural infrastructure that shape ideas about place, conditioning who belongs and what spaces are desirable. As sites of immense ideological and financial investment, stadiums provide a generative site for exploring the unresolved relationship between race and power in the postwar period. This project argues that the stadium’s transformation from a site of athletic prowess to a symbol of progress serves as a critical window into racialized and gendered struggles for civic identity and alternate urban future over time. It offers Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Houston, and New Orleans as important metropolitan spaces that chart architectural, technological, and ideological stadium transformations amidst rapidly changing demographic landscapes. In focusing on cities with majority-minority populations, the dissertation contends that communities of color have capitalized, and continue to capitalize, on the importance of the stadium to create new urban imaginaries and alter civic identities.