The Twin Faces of Athens
Myths and realities of Greek statehood writ large in its distended capital. From post-Ottoman neo-Hellenism to Cold War urbanization and the culture-sapping rule of the Troika, the delimitation of a new-fangled city of Pericles from the catch-all conurbation for Balkan migrations.
An archaeology of the radical dreams buried under Seattle’s glass towers, the expanding footprints of Amazon and Microsoft. Reverberations of the October Revolution on the far shore of the North Pacific, as Wobblies, loggers and shipyard workers rally to the general strike of 1919.
The Year 1960
Prelude to the explosive struggles of the sixties in California, as the social actors, left and right, gather in the wings. Black student militants, white aerospace workers, City developers, RAND Corps dropouts, Latino activists—and Lena Horne, taking direct action against racism in Beverley Hills.
The Not So Eternal City
Angry and witty in equal measure, a blistering native account of Rome’s fate at the hands of avaricious developers, insensate priests, neo-liberal ex-communists and stupefied tourists: corruption, dilapidation, fossilization, Disneyfication and—now, above all—cementification of Europe’s oldest capital.
Mapping London’s Emotions
What light can be shed by quantitative analysis and digital text-mining on fictional cartographies of happiness and fear? Semantics of space and class in the nineteenth-century novel, polarized between normative landmarks of West End wealth and power, and the East End’s nameless warrens, a literary geography of the unknown.
Kinshasa’s Theatre of Power
The DRC’s capital is set to become Africa’s largest city, but struggles to assert its authority over a profoundly fractured state as it expands in chaotic fashion. Dilapidated infrastructure and a disintegrating formal economy have not extinguished Kinshasa’s extraordinary cultural vitality, or its role as a centre of political opposition.
Tehran: Paradox City
Walled citadel of the Shahs, hub of petro-modernity, post-Islamist metropolis: Asef Bayat on the history of struggles to define Iran’s capital, and the successive contests between elite projects and popular resistance that have shaped its spatial pattern.
Who Will Build the Ark?
Copenhagen’s charades dispel any illusion that world rulers intend to deal with the environmental damage industrialization has caused. Mike Davis argues that green urbanism’s twining of social equality and ecological sustainability could offer an alternative starting-point.
The Right to the City
Examining the link between urbanization and capitalism, David Harvey suggests we view Haussmann’s reshaping of Paris and today’s explosive growth of cities as responses to systemic crises of accumulation—and issues a call to democratize the power to shape the urban experience.
The Greening of Istanbul
Its population swollen by six million new arrivals in thirty years, Istanbul has sprawled outwards from the Bosphorus with dramatic speed. Cihan Tugal analyses the contradictions of an urban Islamism, wedded both to vote-winning populism and to financial markets.
The transformation of the former Portuguese enclave of Macau into East Asia’s gambling capital by an alliance of local elites and Las Vegas entrepreneurs, under the approving gaze of Beijing. A frenzy of construction, rising inequalities and rampant corruption as outcomes of a neon-lit decolonization.
A Symptom Called Managua
Nicaragua’s capital as microcosm for the country’s transformation since the 1970s: shattered by earthquake and the depredations of the Somoza dictatorship, briefly lifted by Sandinista urban reconstruction, remade in the 1990s by narco-traffickers and the returning Miami emigration.
The dramatic trajectories of Tbilisi, Baku and Yerevan, and differing roles in the present. Göran Therborn tracks the fortunes of Georgia’s capital, seat of monarchs and Mensheviks, through alterations in its physical fabric, setting these alongside the metamorphoses of its Caucasian counterparts.
Transformed from murder capital to corporate boom town, Medellín has been hailed as a rare urban success story for neo-conservatism in South America. The singular progression of Escobar and Uribe’s hometown—cattle-trading post, industrial centre, drug-trafficking hub, neoliberal Latin Mecca.
Fear and Money in Dubai
On the rim of the war zone, a new Mecca of conspicuous consumption and economic crime, under the iron rule of Sheikh al-Maktoum. Skyscrapers half a mile high, artificial archipelagoes, fantasy theme parks—and the indentured Asian labour force that sustains them.
Learning from Lagos
Africa’s largest city not as chaotic laboratory of urban form, but end result of a specific historical trajectory. Beyond Koolhaas’s diagrammatic insights, the real context of spiralling debts, kleptocrat elite, infra-structural collapse and burgeoning informal sector as factors in Lagos’s expansion.