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Na Li's book reviewed 2016


日期:2016-07-15   | 来源:   | 作者:


For this reviewer, descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of Toronto, Ontario’s Kensington Market trigger memories of visiting the provincial capital as a high school student from rural central Ontario. Here the ethnic diversity of which Canadians are so proud, and of which my quiet hometown was so lacking, was laid out before my eyes. In Kensington Market: Collective Memory, Public History, and Toronto’s Urban Landscapes, Na Li provides an account of her ever-deepening explorations of Kensington Market, as she moved from an outside scholar to someone party to the intimate moments of the neighborhood, drawing out the richness of this urban landscape. Never truly an insider, Li’s explorations of Kensington Market’s lived and built heritage are bound by her professional interest in the ways neighborhoods grow and change over time. The slim volume serves as both a heritage guidebook for members of the community and local historians and as a case study for Li’s culturally sensitive narrative approach (CSNA) to heritage planning. The book can be divided into two informal sections, each addressing a different audience. The early chapters explore the history of the neighborhood, while the final chapter lays out the principles of CSNA. Li uses the contextual chapters to demonstrate the value of her approach. Indeed, without first having the historical account, her explanation of CSNA would be neither as rich nor as compelling. This structural division serves to underline the book’s methodological argument: heritage planning should take an iterative approach grounded in an appreciation of the multiplicity of a place’s historic narratives. The archival, artifactual, built heritage, and oral history sources of a neighborhood’s past help unfold the palimpsest of urban form and collective memory. These layers form what Li (building on the work of Kevin Lynch) terms a ‘‘memoryscape.’’ The memoryscape concept, she argues, ‘‘can provide a vitally important perspective for planners and their practices; it can also expose what is invisible in ‘official’ interpretations’’ (80). Rather than the flat and dry planners’ map, Li argues that an approach based on memoryscapes allows planners to take on nuanced positions that respect the collective memory of residents. Li contrasts her approach with one based on ‘‘values.’’ She argues that ‘‘value is a loaded term: it refers to the price of something in relation to some other thing. . . . Left out of that equation is space for beauty, justice, freedom, eternity— qualities embedded in the historic environment’’ (81, emphasis in original). Shifting heritage planning away from values towards these intangible qualities requires a new approach that Li terms a CSNA, or culturally sensitive narrative approach, consisting of six steps: 1. Undertaking deep qualitative and quantitative social history research 2. Reexamining existing policies with a focus on public participation 3. Engaging in ethnographic and culturally immersive fieldwork 4. Conducting oral history interviews 5. Revisiting preservation policies taking local perspectives as the frame of reference 6. Implementing new policies (see 82–84). The core of Li’s argument is about the need to move away from top-down planning imperatives in favor of an immersive approach that makes different pasts legible and democratizes interpretative authority throughout a community. Only then can the ever-changing vibrancy of a place be properly recognized. Indeed, a neighborhood cannot be frozen in a moment, but has to be allowed to live and evolve. Unlike other models of historic preservation or heritage districts that may attempt to strictly preserve a neighborhood’s distinctive form or reflect a selected time period, Li’s CSNA acknowledges that the capacity for change is at the heart of a vibrant neighborhood such as Kensington Market. Its layers of built form reflect the communities that have lived and continue to live in the neighborhood, and Li’s nimble approach recognizes that future communities will make their own changes that will reflect their lived experiences. Li’s culturally sensitive narrative approach offers a challenge to the status quo of heritage planning and may not be suitable for every neighborhood. Nonetheless, by attaching her critique of conventional heritage planning to a methodologically and detail-rich example of an alternative approach, she opens the door to fruitful conversation and practice. Li’s work shows the value of meaningful community participation in this short but rich, dense though not overwhelming, book. Peter G. Anderson, Queen’s University at Kingston

 

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