14 July 2016


Ghettos. We commonly associate the term today with places like "effective social or ethnic ghettos, from the favelas of Brazil to the mostly black urban neighbourhoods of the United States and the predominantly north African banlieues of Paris."

But this term, as we learn in "Inventing the Ghetto" (2016, 1843 Magazine - The Economist), has its own specific history that dates back 500 years to the establishment of the Jewish ghetto in Venice on March 29th 1516.

I like this piece for the ways in which it connects the history of this ghetto in Venice, with the treatment of its Jewish inhabitants, and the growth of the city, but also with contemporary issues of social inequality and issues of space and place. Instructors might like this piece as background for a lecture on social inequality, space and place, or gentrification. I can also see it being an interesting think piece for upper year students to think about how social contemporary issues have connections to broader historical, political, and economic processes and precedents.