Whither Urban Studies?


by Andy Merrifield, Leverhulme Visiting Professor, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester

In talking about urban studies I can only talk from and for the perspective I know best: the critical urban tradition that developed out of Marxism in the 1970s, as pioneered by the likes of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey and Manuel Castells. I tried to document and contribute toward this tradition in my book Metromarxism, where I claimed some of the best urban studies has been done by certain Marxists, and some the best Marxism has been done by certain urban theorists.

If we look back at the debates that raged in the 1970s, one of the biggest was about the nature of the urban. Just what is the urban anyway? What is a city? Why should it command such interest for critical scholars? The obvious rejoinder is that the city plays a special role…

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