Stuart Schrader, ‘Henri Lefebvre, Mao Zedong, and the Global Urban Concept’ at Global Urban History.
Global urban history takes three primary forms. One is to direct the analytic gaze beyond Euro-America, to cities that were once “off the map” of urban studies. Another is to study the interconnections among far-flung cities. Extensive commercial, cultural, and intellectual networks that underpin “globalization” have long been grounded in cities. With the increasing popularity of global and world history, it makes sense to emphasize the centrality of cities and the unique role they play in globalization. A third form is to analyze the history of an uneven global urban fabric. Works like Carl Nightingale’s Segregation or Mike Davis’s Planet of Slums analyze how the form of the urban changes as it also “globalizes.” In this post, I delve into this third mode of global urban history.
The theoretical innovation that allows us to conceive of an uneven global urban fabric itself has an intellectual history. One important genealogy draws us back to the French social theorist Henri Lefebvre, particularly his work on space and the urban in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is a key figure who inspired the “spatial turn” in the humanities and social sciences. Yet what inspired Lefebvre to develop a global urban concept, and to whom was it addressed? [continues here]