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Ghetto has a specific historical reference to the segregation of Jews within the Ghetto Nuovo in Venice of the 1400s, from which the name is derived, and to the segregated residential quarters that developed in European cities in the following century. The ethnic communities of Jewish immigrants in American cities were also called ghettos. In more recent times, ghetto has been used to describe African American communities in the inner city, often characterized by high rates of poverty, crime, and social dislocation. Current discussions about the ghetto have raised concerns about the use of the term to define other ethnic communities and about the connections drawn to low-income communities in other countries—the Brazilian favela, French ban-lieue, South American shantytown, and Asian slum. This entry ...

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