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Epidemic Cities provides an overview of the history of epidemics through a particular focus on a range of cities in different regions of the world. The dual focus on both epidemics and specific cities provides an unusual perspective on global history: the analysis of globally circulating epidemics enables reconstructing a variety of wide-reaching entanglements, on the one hand. On the other hand, the concentration with specific urban settings highlights differences and the unevenness engendered by global entanglements. After an introduction concerning the history of the relationship between medicine, epidemics, and cities, the book focuses on the history of three epidemic diseases and how they affected Paris, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Bombay, and Baltimore. The timings of major pandemics punctuate the structure of the book: cholera pandemics from the 1830s to the late nineteenth century, bubonic plague at the turn of the twentieth century, and finally tuberculosis until the mid-twentieth century.
Kristin Stapleton analyzes how concepts and practices associated with the 'modern city' were received, transformed, and contested in Asia over the past 150 years. In the early twentieth century, activists took advantage of the new significance of the city to pursue a wide variety of goals. Thus, the concept of the modern city played an important role in Asia, despite much critical commentary on the ideals associated with it. By the 1940s, the city yielded its political centrality to the nation. Still, modern cities remained an important marker of national achievement during the Cold War. In recent decades, cities have continued to play a central role in economic and cultural affairs in Asia, but the concept of the modern city has evolved. Asian ideas about urban governance and visions of future cities are significantly shaping that evolution.
This Element examines urban imaginaries during the expansion of international news between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, when everyday information about faraway places found its way into newspapers all over the world. Building on the premise that news carried an unprecedented power to shape representations of the world, it follows this development as it made its way to regular readers beyond the dominant information poles, in the great port-cities of the South American Atlantic. Based on five case studies of typical turn-of-the-century foreign news, Lila Caimari shows how current events opened windows onto distant cities, feeding a new world horizon that was at once wider and eminently urban.
Capitalist private property in land and buildings – real estate – is the ground of modern cities, materially, politically, and economically. It is foundational to their development and core to much theoretical work on the urban environment. It is also a central, pressing matter of political contestation in contemporary cities. Yet it remains largely without a history. This Element examines the modern city as a propertied space, defining real estate as a technology of (dis)possession and using it to move across scales of analysis, from the local spatiality of particular built spaces to the networks of legal, political, and economic imperatives that constitute property and operate at national and international levels. This combination of territorial embeddedness with more wide-ranging institutional relationships charts a route to an urban history that allows the city to speak as a global agent and artefact without dispensing with the role of states and local circumstance.
Most historians and social scientists treat cities as mere settings. In fact, urban places shape our experience. There, daily life has a faster, artificial rhythm and, for good and ill, people and agencies affect each other through externalities (uncompensated effects) whose impact is inherently geographical. In economic terms, urban concentration enables efficiency and promotes innovation while raising the costs of land, housing, and labour. Socially, it can alienate or provide anonymity, while fostering new forms of community. It creates congestion and pollution, posing challenges for governance. Some effects extend beyond urban borders, creating cultural change. The character of cities varies by country and world region, but it has generic qualities, a claim best tested by comparing places that are most different. These qualities intertwine, creating built environments that endure. To fully comprehend such path dependency, we need to develop a synthetic vision that is historically and geographically informed.
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