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Urban Studie s, Vol. W e make sense of urban space by investing it with names, nam es that over time ac crue meanings both polyvalent at any one point in time and mutating through time. Urban space in Tokyo was used as a formative setting onto which to inscr ib e an idea of modernisation. Within this larger picture, Shitamachi was seen as representing a past vis ion of the city, one that wa s inimical to the interests of a modernising state. It became an indus trial zone, a margin within the folds of central space.
In recent years, a re assessment has oc curred. Shitamachi is now widely celebrated as a space of communal memory and historical ide ntity, even though its extent and meanings remain contested. The richly symbolic spaces of the imaginat ion are thus rooted within a changing political economy.
They are the main stre et-level, vox- pop. Shitamachi and Yamanote ha ve no administration nor borders and , hav- ing no borders, the ground they are conven- tiona lly thought to cover to the extent that any such cla im can be made has shifted.
Shitam achi has moved east from the city centr e, which itself has shifted westwards, w hile Yamanote has shifted even further w est. The stor y of Shitama chi is one that could be told of many great urban centres, for w hile the articulation of this process of mar- ginalisa tion and reinvention varies from place to place, the central driving-forces tend to be the sam e—capital and the state. Fax: E-mail: p.