I am on my way to the university to teach my class in intellectual property. I decide to walk down Queen Street-into that ever-so-selfconsciously hip strip officially (and painfully) known as "The Fashion District," which runs west from the downtown core in Toronto. Parallel to King and Dundas Streets and crosscut by Dufferin, Bathurst, and Simcoe, Queen Street is central to the city's British colonial topography, overlaid more recently by a municipally imposed multiculturalism. Just to my west, street signs proclaim me to be in "Little Portugal," although all visible evidence suggests that "Little Saigon" might be more appropriate. Identities in such social contexts shift too quickly to be encompassed by official mappings, which, despite the liberal intentions of their cartographers, belie a colonial containment of alterity.
Shifts in relations between spaces, places, and identities are clear in the new uses of old contributions to the cityscape tendered by a now-elderly generation of Ukrainian, Polish, and Czech immigrants - Orthodox churches, butcher shops, travel agencies, and package services that long specialized in shipping goods into the Soviet Union. Gradually, these commercial spaces are being transformed. Rents along this section of the street are lower than they are closer to downtown, but even this far west, aspiring entrepreneurs accrue some of the street's cachet. Xeroxed reproductions of Warhol posters, plastic busts of Elvis, Partridge Family gameboards, and Monkees album covers are favored forms of commercial decor in an area where Fredric Jameson's name is often dropped in café conversations, and paraphrases of Jean Baudrillard litter the alternative press. Nostalgia with respect to histories of marketing and celebrity, and an ironic attitude toward them, create a shared identity for a generation unbound by organic traditions. This, social theorists would have us believe, is characteristic of the condition of postmodernity.
Rosemary J. Coombe,
Critical Cultural Legal Studies,
Yale J.L. & Human.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlh/vol10/iss2/11