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Journal article 968 views 252 downloads

The ordinary city trap

Richard Smith Orcid Logo

Environment and Planning A, Volume: 45, Issue: 10, Pages: 2290 - 2304

Swansea University Author: Richard Smith Orcid Logo

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DOI (Published version): 10.1068/a45516

Abstract

The paper is a critique of a critique, it explains why the most salient and influential critiques of the neo-Marxist world city and global city concepts, made by those arguing to further postcolonialize urban studies through such suppositions that all cities are ‘ordinary’, are misguided. First, it...

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Published in: Environment and Planning A
ISSN: 0308-518X 1472-3409
Published: 2013
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa13248
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Abstract: The paper is a critique of a critique, it explains why the most salient and influential critiques of the neo-Marxist world city and global city concepts, made by those arguing to further postcolonialize urban studies through such suppositions that all cities are ‘ordinary’, are misguided. First, it is explained how the charges of economism and ethnocentrism against the world city and global city concepts are ignoratio elenchi: they do not even begin to address or critique their neo-Marxist argument that, across the difference and diversity of the world’s cities, a few major cities have the necessary economic specialization and therefore extraordinary function of commanding and controlling neoliberal globalization. Second, the error made by advocates of ordinary cities of supposing that world-systems analysis and the world city concept are forms of developmentalism is understood as the source for a wider postcolonial mistake of conflating the neo-Marxist world city and global city literatures with the very neoliberal practices toward urban development that they have long attempted to disclose and counter. Finally, the charges against the world city and global city concepts as paradigmatic, peripheralizing, and normative are also rebutted, not only to highlight how those critiques are consequentialist and dependent on the respective charges of economism, ethnocentrism, and developmentalism having veracity, but to demonstrate how an acceptance of the ordinary cities argument for an idiographic, provincial, nominalist, and comparative approach to urban studies, as an alternative to the two neo-Marxist concepts, is only to fall into the trap of making the mistake of confusing evidence of absence for absence of evidence.
Keywords: ordinary city; postcolonial urbanisms; world city; global city
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Issue: 10
Start Page: 2290
End Page: 2304