NEW URBAN SPACES: URBAN THEORY AND THE SCALE QUESTION

Neil Brenner

The urban condition is today being radically transformed.  Urban restructuring is accelerating, new urban spaces are being consolidated, and new forms of urbanization are crystallizing across the planet.  How can we decipher these emergent geographies of urbanization? 

This project confronts this challenge by exploring the theoretical foundations, concrete applications and methodological limits of a scalar approach to conceptualizing the urban.  Rather than conceiving the urban as a bounded territorial type or unit, and contrasting it to putatively non-urban spaces (suburbs, hinterlands, rural zones, wilderness), such approaches involve embedding the urban within unevenly developed, relationally constituted, politically contested and historically mutable interscalar configurations that extend from the body, the city and the region to the national territory and the planet.  To what degree can such conceptualizations help illuminate the new urban spaces that have been consolidated in recent decades?  In what sense can contemporary patterns and pathways of urban restructuring be understood as a scalar reweaving of the worldwide urban fabric:  a rescaling of urban life? 

Building upon the author’s previous writings on scale and urban theory, the studies assembled in New Urban Spaces explore such questions at length, in relation to key terrains of investigation and debate in contemporary urban studies—including postfordism, global city formation, neoliberalization, the new regionalism, growth machine theory, uneven spatial development, and planetary urbanization.

Planned outcome: book publication, Oxford University Press, 2017

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Image credit:  László Moholy-Nagy Construction AL6 (Konstruktion AL6), 1933–34. IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Generalitat © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York