Nigel Thrift, Killer Cities – Sage, February 2021
Killer Cities uses a combination of social theory, polemic and close attention to empirical detail to tell the story of how and why cities cause mass animal death and, in the process, hasten the destruction of the planet. This book is not just a lament, however. It is an attempt to navigate out of this mess of planned and unplanned violence towards a world in which cities no longer act as killers but become aligned with the lives of other beings. It offers pragmatic ways of diminishing the death toll and changing mindsets without ever minimizing the dilemmas that inevitably will have to be faced. Killer cities can be rehabilitated so that they offer brighter paths towards the future – for animals, for human beings, and for the planet. A new urban geography could be within our grasp. Indeed, it has to be, for all of our sakes.
You can’t change the world without first seeing it through new lenses. Killer Cities shines a light on the ecocidal underbelly of urban life in a capitalist world. Using animals as a focus, Nigel Thrift advances concepts, arguments and evidence that might inspire us to make a very different urban future. The book is creative and hopeful in the face of formidable forces of mental and practical inertia.
University of Manchester (England) and University of Wollongong (Australia)
This epic compendium on the ravages of planetary urbanism from one of geography’s most generative thinkers is above all, as the title suggests, a provocation. Whether it inspires or infuriates, it cannot fail to force thought.
Professor of Environment and Public Policy, University of Oxford
People love cities. New York, Paris, Barcelona, London: These are the places where modern life has thrived. So much so that, by 2050, the United Nations predicts that almost 70 percent of the global population will live in cities. In the process, cities have become selfish places for humans to think only of themselves. In Killer Cities, Nigel Thrift invites us to include a broader menagerie into cities—many of which are already there anyway, but pinned under the boot of humanity. The result is liberatory—for people and creatures of all kinds, but also for cities themselves.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Killer Cities documents the long histories of violence done by cities, the killings, displacements and neglect. It also holds out the hope that cities can be reimagined as unfolding sites of experimental cohabitation. Thrift draws from a vast range of sources, celebrating those who recognize the multiple knots of obligation that human beings have to each other, to other-than-human beings and to the planet itself. It is a book for our time, as pandemics, climate change and the anthropocene increasingly unsettle the category of the human.
Professor Social Anthropology, University of Manchester
The breath-taking thesis of this book is that the re-cognition of cities and the future of humanity requires not only thinking about but with animals. To use a term the book itself employs, this is social theory as enjambment. In Killer Cities, thinking runs on and over – from species to species – without terminal punctuation.
Director, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick