New York has eight million deeply personal and unique stories of pain and perseverance from September 11, 2001. But the toll of tragedy is greater than the anguish it inflicts on individuals—communities suffer as well. In Wounded City, editor Nancy Foner brings together an accomplished group of scholars to document how a broad range of communities—residential, occupational, ethnic, and civic—were affected and changed by the World Trade Center attacks.
Using survey data and in-depth ethnographies, the book offers sophisticated analysis and gives voice to the human experiences behind the summary statistics, revealing how the nature of these communities shaped their response to the disaster. Sociologists Philip Kasinitz, Gregory Smithsimon, and Binh Pok highlight the importance of physical space in the recovery process by comparing life after 9/11 in two neighborhoods close to ground zero—Tribeca, which is nestled close to the city’s downtown, and Battery Park City, which is geographically and structurally separated from other sections of the city. Melanie Hildebrandt looks at how social solidarity changed in a predominantly Irish, middle class community that was struck twice with tragedy: the loss of many residents on 9/11 and a deadly plane crash two months later. Jennifer Bryan shows that in the face of hostility and hate crimes, many Arab Muslims in Jersey City stressed their adherence to traditional Islam. Contributor Karen Seeley interviews psychotherapists who faced the challenge of trying to help patients deal with a tragedy that they themselves were profoundly affected by. Economist Daniel Beunza and sociologist David Stark paint a picture of organizational resilience as they detail how securities traders weathered successive crises after evacuating their downtown office and moving temporarily to New Jersey. Francesca Polletta and Lesley Wood look at a hopeful side of a horrible tragedy: civic involvement in town meetings and public deliberations to discuss what should be done to rebuild at ground zero and help New Yorkers create a better future in the footprints of disaster.
New Yorkers suffered tremendous losses on September 11, 2001: thousands of lives, billions of dollars, the symbols of their skyline, and their peace of mind. But not lost in the rubble of the World Trade Center were the residential, ethnic, occupational, and organizational communities that make up New York’s rich mosaic. Wounded City gives voice to some of those communities, showing how they dealt with unforeseen circumstances that created or deepened divisions, yet at the same brought them together in suffering and hope. It is a unique look at the aftermath of a devastating day and the vitality of a diverse city.
NANCY FONER is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
CONTRIBUTORS: Daniel Buenza, Jennifer L. Bryan, Margaret M. Chin, Monisha Das Gupta, Kai Erikson, Sandra Garcia, Irwin Garfinkel, Melanie D. Hildebrandt, Philip Kasinitz, Neeraj Kaushal, William Kornblum, Steven Lang, Binh Pok, Francesca Polletta, Julia Rothenberg, Karen Seeley, Gregory Smithsimon, David Stark, Julien Teitler, Lesley Wood.
A September 11 Initiative Volume