Meeting 7, Mar 6

Globalization, Mobility,
Splintering Urbanism
Social Analysis of Urban Everyday Life
Meeting 7 (March 6, 2014)
Nikita Kharlamov, AAU
Lefebvre: The Urban Revolution
• Synchronic view: Levels of organization or urban
society: G-global (power relations), M-mixed (city), Pprivate (habiting). M-level connects the concrete site
with the global relations.
• Diachronic view: urban process, where the essential
part of the ‘urban’ is centrality. This process is
dialectical, and it follows the logic of creation and
• “The city brings together whatever is engendered
somewhere else, by nature of labor… What does the
city create? Nothing. It centralizes creation.” (p. 117)
Global / World City
World City (Hall, The World Cities, 1966), Global City (Sassen, The Global City: New
York, London, Tokyo, 1991) – a key urban node that concentrates command and
control function in the global economy. The basic idea: a global city is a central
node shared between multiple distinct networks (economic, transit, political,
cultural, etc.), and exercising c&c function by virtue of this centrality.
Underlying processes: urbanization (size/scale); concentration of capital (uneven
development); concentration of finance (postindustrial economy – 1); innovation,
entrepreneurialism, creative class, culture industry (postindustrial economy – 2);
migration, diversity, conflict (cosmopolitanism).
Recall Simmel (1903): the Metropolis!
Iconic global cities: New York, London, Tokyo.
Key question: scale of influence (global, regional, sub-regional).
Moscow is commonly classified as ‘regional global city.’
Key criticism / warning: ‘command and control’ implies too much ‘totality,’ unity,
capacity for agency to what in reality is a fairly diffuse, loosely organized network
of different agents such as corporations, classes, government, etc. (R. G. Smith,
Beyond the global city concept and the myth of ‘command and control’, 2014)
Uneven Development
• Originates in Karl Marx’s work on capital accumulation and
in his observation that accumulation of wealth coexists
with accumulation of misery.
• Spatial fix to crises of overaccumulation of productive
capacity and labor (Harvey, The Limits to Capital, 1982):
capital moves elsewhere. Example: the push on China to
raise its middle class consuming power to create new
consumers for global exports.
• Rent gap (Smith, Uneven Development, 1984): the gap
between actual and potential land rent realizable explains
why developers flock to particular locations and stimulate
redevelopment and gentrification. Example: gentrification
of Harlem, practices of redevelopment and ‘creative
destruction’ of old city blocks in Moscow.
Globalization, Hybridity,
• Advanced travel and communication technologies
coupled with population explosion and increased
porosity of political boundaries lead to permanent and
temporary migration, commuting, business and leisure
travel, tourism, as well as global distribution of
commodities and information.
• Multiculturalism and hybridity (Bhabha, The Location
of Culture, 1994) (think back to our discussions of
ethnic neighborhoods and visual semiotics of culture)
• Conflict and tension
Possible Themes for Photography
• Global brands in local contexts
• Spaces and places of mobility
• Varieties of human mobility: business travel,
tourism, voluntary and forced migration
• Architectural manifestations of global cities
• Uneven development (spatial fixes, rent gaps)
• Loci of global finance
• Command and control of global economy

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