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9 - Confronting the Global Urban Imaginary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2019

Manfred B. Steger
Affiliation:
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Paul James
Affiliation:
Western Sydney University
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Summary

This chapter focuses on intensifying urbanization as a global phenomenon. Each year, the equivalent of two cities the size of Tokyo are built; one in six urban dwellers live in slums; and we are heading towards that black figure of 2°C global warming (the subject of the next chapter). The twenty-first century has been already called the ‘Urban Century’, supposedly leaving behind the Century of Nation-States (the twentieth century) and the Century of Empires (the nineteenth century) as prior dominant forms. While it is certainly true that urbanization has become one of the dominant global trends, this prognosis is hyperbolic, missing the tensions between different levels and forms of governance. Cities across the world are crossed by global processes of ecological pressure, economic fragility, political contestation, and cultural questioning. All of this means that the current approach to ‘global cities’ is reductive and skewed. Here, we confront a shibboleth in scholarly writing—not only has the urbanization of the world been a long-term if massively accelerating process, but it should also be said that cities have long been the locus of globalization processes.

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Chapter
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Globalization Matters
Engaging the Global in Unsettled Times
, pp. 209 - 229
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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