In The Post-Urban World

This new book edited by Tigran Haas and Hans Westlund from KTH is a collection of interesting and somewhat oblique essays on the urban world we have entered. Lot of people you know writing here. Ed Glaeser, Richard Florida, Patrick Adler, Rahul Mehrotra, Felipe Vera, myself, Hans Westlund, Paul Knox, and Richard Sennett – and that is the first part. And then in two more parts: Jessie Poon, Wei Yin, Kaisa Snellman, Jennifer Silva, Carl Frederick, Robert Putnam, Kyle Farrell, Tigran Haas, Fulong Wu, Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp, Edward Soja, Fran Tonkiss, Laura Burkhalter, Manuel Castells, Saskia Sassen, Susan Fainstein, Emily Talen, Michael Neuman, Nadia Nur, Nina-Marie Lister, Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman. You can get a sneak preview using some Google Gizmo that is attached to the site.

In the last few decades, many global cities and towns have experienced unprecedented economic, social, and spatial structural change. Today, we find ourselves at the juncture between entering a post-urban and a post-political world, both presenting new challenges to our metropolitan regions, municipalities, and cities. Many megacities, declining regions and towns are experiencing an increase in the number of complex problems regarding internal relationships, governance, and external connections. In particular, a growing disparity exists between citizens that are socially excluded within declining physical and economic realms and those situated in thriving geographic areas. This book conveys how forces of structural change shape the urban landscape.

In The Post-Urban World is divided into three main sections: Spatial Transformations and the New Geography of Cities and Regions; Urbanization, Knowledge Economies, and Social Structuration; and New Cultures in a Post-Political and Post-Resilient World. One important subject covered in this book, in addition to the spatial and economic forces that shape our regions, cities, and neighbourhoods, is the social, cultural, ecological, and psychological aspects which are also critically involved. Additionally, the urban transformation occurring throughout cities is thoroughly discussed. Written by today’s leading experts in urban studies, this book discusses subjects from different theoretical standpoints, as well as various methodological approaches and perspectives; this is alongside the challenges and new solutions for cities and regions in an interconnected world of global economies.

Classic Books in Regional Studies

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Regional Studies, the Book Reviews section of the journal has published a series of reviews of books originally published decades ago, and whose influence has grown sufficiently that they are considered classics and milestones in regional studies. This involved scholars who are themselves established and highly influential in the field, through their ability to shape ideas and their broad perspective in assessing them. The reviewers reflect on: how the books have contributed to changing the landscape of the discipline; what aspects included in the books are little known but still relevant today; any “new” concepts in their own field that are clearly anticipated by the books; the ways in which the actual content of the books may differ from general presumptions; and the extent to which the books are still a worthwhile read for scholars.

Thanks to those who accepted the challenge, the results brought together in this Virtual Special Issue are a set of essays which allow us to better know these classic books and put them in contemporary perspective.

Ugo Fratesi, Politecnico di Milano, Book Reviews Editor, Regional Studies

Read the full editorial here.

Explore the individual book reviews below:

Albert O. Hirschman’s The strategy of economic development

Reviewed by Henry Wai-chung Yeung

Joseph A. Shumpeter’s The theory of economic development

Reviewed by Michael Fritsch

Nicholas Kaldor’s Economics without equilibrium

Reviewed by Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen

Gunnar Myrdal’s Economic theory and underdeveloped regions

Reviewed by Eric Sheppard

Doreen Massey’s Spatial divisions of labour

Reviewed by Michael Dunford

Alfred Marshall’s Principles of economics

Reviewed by Peter Sunley

Peter Hall’s Cities in civilization

Reviewed by Michael Batty

Harry W. Richardson’s Regional growth theory

Reviewed by Philip McCann

David Harvey’s Social justice and the city

Reviewed by Frank Stilwell

August Losch’s The economics of Location

Reviewed by Ron Martin

Jane Jacobs’s The death and life of great American cities and The economy of cities

Reviewed by Gilles Duranton

PG and D’Arcy

I hope more people (>2) see this post than actually attended the four lectures celebrating the contribution of D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson at this year’s RGS-IBG conference last Thursday when we presented. But such is the state of the world and especially human geography that 2 people in the audience is all that can be expected when one is celebrating one, nay two, of the great contributions from the early 20th century.

In 1915 Patrick Geddes (PG) published his great book Cities in Evolution and in 1917 D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson published his magnum opus On Growth and Form. Both books outlasted the 20th century and it is our prediction that they will outlast this one, the 21st. Not many books do that and not many that have an influence on geography but it doesn’t matter that we had more people speaking than were in the audience – we are in it for the long term! Both books are gratis – they are online and you can get them b y clicking on the links above.

Dave Unwin organised the session and introduced it. Alan Werritty then spoke on D’Arcy’s contribution to spatial form and networks, Chris Brunsdon then followed this with some key questions and extensions of two dimensional transformations – one of D’Arcy’s key tools, and then myself (with Stephen Marshall) talked about the links between Geddes (PG) and D’Arcy. One of the intriguing questions that myself and Stephen are addressing is “why is it that two people – PG and D’Arcy –spent 31 years in the same department, never published anything together, rarely spoke about each other in their voluminous letters – every one wrote letters in those days, both were sceptical Darwinists, both published their great books within 2 years of each other, and so on … “. We address this questions in the talk and you can glimpse a sense of this from our PDF that is linked to this post – click here.

The other key thing is that these two guys had a vast network of serious influential people who they met in their lifetimes – Darwin, Huxley from Thomas to Julian to Aldous, JBS Haldane and his father, Galton, Pearson, H. G. Wells, Foster, Balfour – the list goes on and on. It is a great detective story that needs a lot more work. Stephen and myself worked on PG and his contribution and we are still grappling with PG’s great dilemma – how to write or not write the great book on social evolution and cities and society that he wanted to but never did – we write a paper in Landscape and Urban Planning last year for PG’s Centenary of his 1915 book Cities in Evolution.

So there is a lot of unfinished business here. Little did I realise that I would spend a lot of time in the twilight of my career trying to unravel the book (and the person who wrote it) that I got as a school prize back in 1962 for A Level Geography.

When Stephen and myself have done more, we will post it, so follow this space.