Andy Merrifield | La nueva cuestión urbana, traducción al castellano

La editorial Katakrak ha publicado recientemente La nueva cuestión urbana, de Andy Merrifield, traducción del original publicado en 2014 por Pluto Press. nueva cuestión urbana es una exuberante aventura a través de nuestra condición urbana global actual, que traza las conexiones entre la teoría urbana radical y el activismo político. Desde los intentos de Haussmann por usar la planificación urbana en el París del siglo XIX contra la revolución obrera hasta las metrópolis contemporáneas, que incluyen sus propias zonas de devastación en ciudades como Detroit, Merrifield nos revela el modo en que la experiencia urbana ha estado marcada profundamente por el antagonismo de clase, y ha sido el campo de batalla de conspiraciones, revueltas y erupciones sociales. Yendo más allá del trabajo de los teóricos urbanos como Manuel Castells, Merrifield identifica la nueva cuestión urbana que demanda urgentemente nuestra atención, en tanto la ciudad se convierte en un espacio de saqueo para el capital pero también en el lugar donde surgen nuevas formas de conflicto urbano y de organización política y social.

Creo que Merrifield no necesita presentación para lxs lectorxs de este blog, pero para lxs que no estén familiarizados con su trabajo anterior, en su día publicamos una reseña múltiple de sus libros hasta 2011 con ocasión del lanzamiento de Magical Marxism: Subversive Politics and the Imagination. Lxs interesadxs en el nuevo libro de Katakrak pueden encontrar varias presentaciones del original en inglés en internet; incluyo a continuación la más sintética, preparada por la propia editorial en su momento.



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The Routledge Handbook of Henri Lefebvre, The City and Urban Society

Progressive Geographies

The Routledge Handbook of Henri Lefebvre, The City and Urban Society – edited by Michael E. Leary-Owhin and John P. McCarthy

The Routledge Handbook of Henri Lefebvre,The City and Urban Society is the first edited book to focus on Lefebvre’s urban theories and ideas from a global perspective, making use of recent theoretical and empirical developments, with contributions from eminent as well as emergent global scholars.

The book provides international comparison of Lefebvrian research and theoretical conjecture and aims; to engage with and critique Lefebvre’s ideas in the context of contemporary urban, social and environmental upheavals; to use Lefebvre’s spatial triad as a research tool as well as a point of departure for the adoption of ideas such as differential space; to reassess Lefebvre’s ideas in relation to nature and global environmental sustainability; and to highlight how a Lefebvrian approach might assist in mobilising resistance to the excesses of globalised…

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Jane Hutton | Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements

Jane Hutton’s Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements, is out with Routledge. I have been following Hutton’s work for a long time and I was eager to read this elaboration of her previous research on the relational political ecology of uneven material flows. Here is the summary: are the far-away, invisible landscapes where materials come from related to the highly visible, urban landscapes where those same materials are installed? Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements traces five everyday landscape construction materials – fertilizer, stone, steel, trees, and wood – from seminal public landscapes in New York City, back to where they came from.

Drawing from archival documents, photographs, and field trips, the author brings these two separate landscapes – the material’s source and the urban site where the material ended up – together, exploring themes of unequal ecological exchange, labor, and material flows. Each chapter follows a single material’s movement: guano from Peru that landed in Central Park in the 1860s, granite from Maine that paved Broadway in the 1890s, structural steel from Pittsburgh that restructured Riverside Park in the 1930s, London plane street trees grown on Rikers Island by incarcerated workers that were planted on Seventh Avenue north of Central Park in the 1950s, and the popular tropical hardwood, ipe, from northern Brazil installed in the High Line in the 2000s.

Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements considers the social, political, and ecological entanglements of material practice, challenging readers to think of materials not as inert products but as continuous with land and the people that shape them, and to reimagine forms of construction in solidarity with people, other species, and landscapes elsewhere.

In the video below, a presentation at the University of Waterloo, Hutton discusses the main argument and cases of the book.

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Guy Standing | Plunder of the Commons (Pelican, 2019)

A review of Guy Standing’s latest book, Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth (Pelican, 2019) on David Bollier’s blog.

Here are two nice bookends for understanding British politics over the past eight centuries: The Charter of the Forest at one end, which from 1215 (until 1971!) guaranteed commoners the right to access to their common wealth for subsistence. And at the other end, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who in 1981 ushered in a draconian regime of neoliberal capitalism that has eliminated those rights by stealing and privatizing common wealth.

In his recent book, Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth, Guy Standing, an economist at SOAS in London, brings together both end-points of this history. The focus is on enclosures, but the point of the book, its manifesto, is to reclaim the commons, chiefly understood, in this context, as public assets and services… more at: Guy Standing’s ‘Plunder of the Commons’ | David Bollier

There was a recent presentation of the book at LSE, with video and audio files available here.

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Camilo José Vergara | Harlem: the unmaking of a ghetto

In this talk at CUNY Chilean photographer and writer Camilo José Vergara presents the graphic material and stories that went into Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto (University of Chicago Press, 2013), his fascinating photographic record of the transformation and gentrification of the neighborhood during four decades. The book was a follow-up of Vergara’s earlier, broader exploration of the landscapes of decay and renewal in The New American Ghetto (Rutgers University Press, 1995).

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Kristin Ross on the political ecology of ZADs and free communes

Here is the video of a recent talk by Kristin Ross at an event organized by the Critical Theory Workshop in the University of Pennsylvania. Ross focuses on the experience of the ZAD (Zone à défendre, Zone to be defended) in Notre-Dame-des-Landes—a self-managed camp against the development of a new airport near Nantes—and explores the connections with other liberated sites dating back to the 1871 Paris Commune, emphasizing their political ecological implications.

There is plenty of material about the ZAD-NDDL and similar initiatives on the website of the Mauvasie Troupe Collective, which also published a book on this experience and struggles against the high-speed railway between Turin and Lyon with a preface by Ross last year: The Zad and NoTAV: Territorial Struggles and the Making of a New Political Intelligence (Verso, 2018). You can also see the documentary ‘Notre Dame des Luttes’ (Jean-François Castell, 2012) here with lots of interviews and footage of earlier attempts to evict the entire community. The camp was razed in 2018 after the cancellation of the airport project, but the movement is still active and new autonomous projects for the site are currently in progress.

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Stanek | Architecture in Global Socialism

Łukasz Stanek’s Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War will be out with Princeton University Press early next year, and is already available to pre-order on the publisher’s website. The book is a much-anticipated development of Stanek’s groundbreaking forays into the connections of socialist Europe and strategic regions of the Global South after World War II through the lens of architectural design (see e.g. here and here).

In the course of the Cold War, architects, planners, and construction companies from socialist Eastern Europe engaged in a vibrant collaboration with those in West Africa and the Middle East in order to bring modernization to the developing world. Architecture in Global Socialism shows how their collaboration reshaped five cities in the Global South: Accra, Lagos, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait City. Łukasz Stanek describes how local authorities and professionals in these cities drew on Soviet prefabrication systems, Hungarian and Polish planning methods, Yugoslav and Bulgarian construction materials, Romanian and East German standard designs, and manual laborers from across Eastern Europe. He explores how the socialist development path was adapted to tropical conditions in Ghana in the 1960s, and how Eastern European architectural traditions were given new life in 1970s Nigeria. He looks at how the differences between socialist foreign trade and the emerging global construction market were exploited in the Middle East in the closing decades of the Cold War. Stanek demonstrates how these and other practices of global cooperation by socialist countries—what he calls socialist worldmaking—left their enduring mark on urban landscapes in the postcolonial world. Featuring an extensive collection of previously unpublished images, Architecture in Global Socialism draws on original archival research on four continents and a wealth of in-depth interviews. This incisive book presents a new understanding of global urbanization and its architecture through the lens of socialist internationalism, challenging long-held notions about modernization and development in the Global South.

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Hadjimichalis, ‘Crisis Spaces’ in paperback edition

Costis Hadjimichalis’ Crisis Spaces: Structures, Struggles and Solidarity in Southern Europe (Routledge, 2017), is now available in paperback. The book is a fundamental, illuminating comparative study of the impacts of the 2007-8 crisis and the ensuing recession and EU austerity programs in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

The financial malaise that has affected the Eurozone countries of southern Europe – Spain, Portugal, Italy and, in its most extreme case, Greece – has been analysed using mainly macroeconomic and financial explanations. This book shifts the emphasis from macroeconomics to the relationship between uneven geographical development, financialisation and politics. It deconstructs the myth that debt, both public and private, in Southern Europe is the sole outcome of the spendthrift ways of Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal, offering a fresh perspective on the material, social and ideological parameters of the economic crisis and the spaces where it unfolded. Featuring a range of case examples that complement and expand the main discussion, Crisis Spaces will appeal to students and scholars of human geography, economics, regional development, political science, cultural studies and social movements studies.

A review symposium was published in European Journal of Urban and Regional Studies last year, with contributions by Ray Hudson and Bob Jessop, amongst others. My review can be dowloaded here.

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Marx’s “Dangerous Classes”

Andy Merrifield’s rich, meandering reflections on Marx’s ‘dangerous classes’ and ‘shadow citizens.’

andy merrifield

Most Marxists know that Marx infamously dismisses the lumpenproletariat — those band of “vagabonds, criminals, prostitutes,” “the demoralised, the ragged,” swindlers and tricksters, ragpickers and pickpockets, tinkers and beggars (all Marx’s words). These ruffians, he says, “dwelling in the sphere of pauperism,” are nothing but “the deadweight of the industrial reserve army,” trapped in the Lazarus layers of society and generally not, nor ever likely to be, a progressive political force.

In Capital, Marx’s bad faith in the lumpenproletariat only redoubles what he’d said some fifteen years earlier. In Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850, he’d written about the rise of Louis Bonaparte’s Second Empire, and how a lumpenproletariat had helped crush the June 1848 workers’ insurrection in Paris. Without this lumpenproletariat, Marx insists, there wouldn’t have been any coup d’état, nor any Louis Bonaparte. The latter’s banditry were recruited from the most desperate lumpen elements, bought off (for…

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Housing Justice in Unequal Cities | Antipode in Barcelona

Antipode’s 8th Institute for the Geographies of Justice will be held in Barcelona next summer. The week-long event will focus on struggles around housing justice in cooperation with local movements (including La Hidra Cooperativa) and UCLA’s Institute on Inequality and Democracy, which has organized two important conferences on this topic this year. You can find more information about the event in Barcelona here.

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