Global Cities and Urban Theory

Books

Donald McNeill

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    Acknowledgements

    ‘As Donald McNeill notes early in this book, scholarship on global cities “has been widespread and varied”. McNeill weaves paths through theory and cities via architects, airports, factories, hotels, cathedrals, taxis, ports and myriad other sites of money, movement, power and marginality. It is a journey worth taking – and McNeill proves a splendid guide.’

    James D. Sidaway, Professor of Political Geography, National University of Singapore

    ‘Donald McNeill’s book brings exceptional clarity to the core concerns of contemporary urban theory. Using a series of fascinating case studies and drawing extensively on politico-economic and actor network theories, the text demonstrates how cities are constitutive of, and constituted by, intersecting global process. In doing so, McNeill pushes forward the boundaries of critical urban studies by offering a systematic and crystal clear urban epistemology. With urban theory now at a turning point, this text should set the contours of debate as the emerging twenty-first century city is understood and theorized.’

    Mark Davidson, Associate Professor of Geography, Clark University

    ‘Donald McNeill has written a creative, innovative and authoritative analysis of the contemporary global city. It provides an impressive critical understanding of what we call the global and the city by focusing on the key material objects and social processes involved in constituting the relations between them. Global Cities provides an analysis of the key engineered sites of the cathedral of St. Peters, the airport and hotel, air conditioning and smart cities – amongst others ‒ helping us to understand why some cities have been more influential than others in shaping global practices.’

    Professor Simon Marvin, Director of the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield

    ‘This book asks fundamental questions for urban research. What is a city? In what sense is a city “global”? McNeill examines key forms of cultural, economic, and political power and practice through which cities are composed as material concentrations, from religion and logistics to air-conditioning systems and smart cities. The result, in a discussion that ranges from Rome and Paris to Dubai and Sydney, is a powerful and innovative account of why and how particular spaces, practices and forms in the city curate globality.’

    Colin McFarlane, Professor of Urban Geography, Durham University

    ‘We may indeed have arrived at an “urban age” but there is precious little critical insight about this important human development. Global Cities and Urban Theory is therefore a very important arrival and should be widely read and discussed. The book distills and advances Donald McNeill’s considerable ground breaking analyses of the global urban system, especially of the corporate and professional elites that seek to shape, indeed control, their destiny. McNeill deploys a highly original and timely critique to challenge the assumptions and assertions of urban power.’

    Brendan Gleeson, Director of The University of Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute

    Illustrations

    About the Author

    Donald McNeill is Professor of Urban and Cultural Geography at Western Sydney University, having previously lectured at King’s College London, Southampton and Strathclyde. His books include The Global Architect: Firms, Fame and Urban Form (Routledge, 2008), New Europe: Imagined Spaces (Arnold, 2004) and Urban Change and the European Left: Tales from the New Barcelona (Routledge, 1999).

    Acknowledgements

    My employers, Western Sydney University, have been thoroughly committed to supporting urban and humanities research for many years, and they deserve significant acknowledgement for allowing time to complete projects such as this. I’d like to thank my colleagues, particularly in the Institute for Culture and Society, for their collegiality and inspiration.

    At SAGE, I am grateful to Robert Rojek for his support for this project, to Keri Dickens, Matthew Oldfield and Katherine Haw for their help during the production phase, and to the proposal reviewers who provided important early feedback and encouragement.

    Some of the work has been published previously. Sections of Chapter 1 first appeared in D. McNeill (2003), ‘Rome, global city? Church, state and the Jubilee 2000’, Political Geography 22: 535–56; ‘Airports and territorial restructuring: the case of Hong Kong’, Urban Studies 51 (14): 2996–3010; and in, ‘Caput Mundi? St Peter’s and the deterritorialised church’, in D. Arnold and A. Ballantyne (2004) (eds), Architecture as Experience: Radical Change in Spatial Practice. New York: Routledge, pp. 134–52. The Australia Hotel study in Chapter 3 is excerpted from D. McNeill and K. McNamara (2012), ‘The life and death of great hotels: modernity, disrepair and demolition in Sydney’s “The Australia’’’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37 (1): 149–63; the case study of Hong Kong airport in Chapter 4 is excerpted from D. McNeill (2014), some of the material on IBM and smart cities in Chapter 6 has been drawn from D. McNeill (2015b), ‘Global firms and smart technologies: IBM and the reduction of cities’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 40 (4): 562–74, and the discussion of San Francisco and Uber was drawn from D. McNeill (2016), ‘Governing a city of unicorns: tech capital and urban politics in San Francisco’, Urban Geography 37 (4): 494–513.

    My thanks and love to Carol, Kim and Maya.

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