Come Downtown and Play

M Silk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (SciVal)


The newly anointed American cities of the late capitalist moment appear preoccupied with the reconstitution of urban space. More accurately, select parcels of urban America have been reconfigured into multifaceted sport, leisure and tourism environments designed for the purpose of encouraging consumption-oriented capital accumulation. Within this paper, the focus is a critical exploration of the ways in which tangible and intangible forms of heritage have been employed, utilized and exploited within these urban transformations. Through focus on a city emblematic of the processes that have molded downtown cores under US capitalism – Memphis – the paper points to the role of heritage in the reconfiguration of the Memphian ‘tourist bubble’. In particular, discussion centers on the often problematic selection of histories and historical elements, forms and practices within the interests of capital space and thus raises a host of localized questions about whose collective memory is being performed in the present, whose aesthetics really count and who benefits. Conclusions address how such urban space is imbued with power relations, that is, how increasingly leisure-oriented spaces can be seen as important sites of social struggle in which dominant power relations can be constructed, contested and reproduced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-277
Number of pages25
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • late capitalism
  • urban space
  • power struggles
  • heritage


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