NEW URBAN SPACES: URBAN THEORY AND THE SCALE QUESTION
Neil Brenner, New Urban Spaces: Urban Theory and the Scale Question (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).
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. How can we decipher these transformations?
In New Urban Spaces, Neil Brenner argues that understanding these mutations of urban life requires not only concrete research, but new theories of urbanization. To this end, Brenner proposes an approach that breaks with inherited conceptions of the urban as a bounded settlement unit—the city or the metropolis—and explores the multiscalar constitution and periodic rescaling of the capitalist urban fabric. From this perspective, urbanization entails not only the growth of the city, but the production of multiscalar forms of territorial organization beyond city limits that support capital’s restless industrial metabolism—including worldwide intercity networks, agro-industrial hinterlands, circuits of extraction, transnational logistics networks and energetic infrastructures. Drawing on critical geopolitical economy and spatialized approaches to state theory, Brenner offers a paradigmatic account of how rescaling processes are transforming inherited formations of urban space and their variegated consequences for emergent patterns and pathways of urbanization. Through critical reinterpretations of contemporary debates on global urbanization, the remaking of urban governance, and uneven spatial development, Brenner presents a vision of urban studies as a constitutively multiscalar rather than locally focused, city-centered research field.
The book advances an understanding of critical urban theory as radically revisable: key urban concepts must be continually reinvented in relation to the relentlessly mutating worlds of urbanization they aspire to illuminate.