Entrepreneurial urbanism and business improvement districts in the state of Wisconsin: A cosmopolitan critique

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Recent years have seen a growth in work on the notion of cosmopolitanism. In urban geography the term has a number of meanings, and this article focuses on two. The first refers to claims of how the experiences of certain cities have been universalized and the calls that have emerged in recent years to diversify the empirical basis on which theories are constructed. The second refers to claims of the ways in which those charged with governing urban downtowns have mobilized notions of cosmopolitanism as part of their efforts to market themselves and to define particular development trajectories. Using the example of Wisconsin's Business Improvement Districts, this article argues for a greater appreciation of diversity within this model of downtown governance than hitherto has been acknowledged, broadening the geographical referents for studies of entrepreneurial urbanism and thinking through what this knowledge might reveal about how we theorize urban revalorization. Despite some evidence of copy-cat urbanism in the two cases, there remains a need to be alive to diversity and variety. © 2010 by Association of American Geographers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1196
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Business improvement districts
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Entrepreneurial urbanism
  • Urban geography
  • Wisconsin


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