Saturday, June 10, 2006

Slums and shadow cities are where other people live

I'm almost done my journal review of Neuwirth's Shadow Cities and Davis' Planet of Slums, both of which I enjoyed for different reasons. I assigned Shadow Cities in class last year, and will bring in Planet of Slums next year, so this also partly serves as a pedagogical exercise for me.

Anyway, I've noticed that online reviews of Davis' work sometimes include comments about how the lack of empirical research makes it less valid or respectable than Neuwirth's journalistic account. Or I've seen the claim that Neuwirth's direct experience makes his account more reliable. Besides my reservations about empiricism (see Feyerabend amongst others on that matter), this strikes me as somewhat like saying that Dawn of the Dead is more authentic than Shaun of the Dead - it misses the point of each movie.

I don't want my review to focus on which vision of emerging global urbanism is the right one, or even the better one. I want to focus on the questions they each asked, and the ways in which they went about answering them. More specifically, of course, I want to focus on the spatial and cultural questions. I went back and re-read Rana Dasgupta's The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City, and am now trying to get at the two books in terms of affective space and cosmopolitanism.

Stay tuned for the draft, and ideas or comments on the books are most welcome.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Craig said...

Long discussion of Planet of Slums in response to a post by Jodi Dean on the book at Long Sunday.

06:37  
Anonymous Robert Nanders said...

Ugh, global urbanism. Talk about a nasty way to ensure that people are almost unable to supply their own food, and given labor controls, often unable to find work that's legal.

15:16  

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