From the beginning of the article:
In recent times, some cities in the UK and elsewhere in Europe have made explicit use of their ‘multicultural heritage’ as a theme to revitalise inner city areas. Places that were once regarded as forbidding and ‘unsafe’ for casual strollers are being re-imaged to attract visitors from the majority culture, and in some cases international tourists. Expressions of ethnic and cultural identity in the built environment, along with markets, festivals and other events in public spaces are being re-presented as testimonies to the historic contribution of immigrant groups to the life of the city. Commercial thoroughfares are being upgraded, refurbished and promoted as exotic backdrops for consumption, especially stylish restaurants, bars and nightclubs (Shaw, Bagwell & Karmowska 2004). From a Neo-liberal stance, this ‘self-help’ approach is a welcome development that enables ethnic minority and other entrepreneurs to capitalise on an expanding service economy, revitalising long-neglected urban landscapes. Nevertheless, others question the sustainability of initiatives to promote leisure and tourism as disadvantaged neighbourhoods become ‘urban quarters’: shop windows designed to appeal to the consumption practices of the emerging nouveau riche, their street culture commodified in contrived narratives of place (Zukin 1999; Bell & Jayne 2004; Chan 2004).
Such deliberate aestheticisation of places associated with past or present immigrant communities as an exotic spectacle can be seen in the broader context of ‘place-marketing’: an emerging body of theories and practices developed by city governments, especially in North America over the past decade (Ward 1998; Shaw 2004). From this perspective, the urban past offers a quarry of possibilities. In historic cities, the built environment and its associations with former residents provides raw material from which ‘heritage products’ can be extracted and assembled, usually in combination with contemporary themes. Through interpretation and promotion, diverse elements of urban life and urbanity are integrated to appeal to target audiences, positioned or re-positioned to establish a distinctive, if not unique brand (Ashworth 2001; Morgan, Pritchard & Pride 2002). In an increasingly volatile and globalized market, rival cities compete to attract target place-consumers that may include high-spending visitors, as well as investors, property developers and high-income residents (Karmowska 2003). Historic urban landscapes – chance survivals of earlier phases of a city’s development – may be exploited as valuable resources that contribute to quality of life for urban elites.