11
Oct
06

Urbanization

By 2010, the world is supposed to be more than 50% urbanized.  The BBC offers this phenomenal interactive map that traces global urbanization since 1950, when North America and Europe were the most urbanized continents on the planet.  This stat of a forthcoming predominantly urbanized world is something we here in the Department of Urban Studies & Planning like to cite, particularly to fundraisers uncertain of our indispensibility to the world. 

It is a growth pattern that (former Marxist) sociologist Manuel Castells recognized, in his 1970s path-breaking work, The Urban Question.  I took a class with Castells in 2005 (in which he looks less Hitchcockian and more Hobbitt-like), and I can picture his appreciation of his own cleverness when he wrote:

“If one relates this evolution with the economico-political structure on a world scale, and, more concretely, with the decline in the standard of living in the regions with the greatest demographic growth, and with the gradual political mobilization of the working masses, one can understand the sudden interest that western sociologists have discovered in both the problem of birth control and the process of urbanization.”

Certainly he paused after he wrote that, appreciating his wry acknowledgement of predominantly white male scholars suddenly taking an interest in birth control in countries populated by dark, exotic women and the men who keep them.  This from the man who in describing the rise of feminism in history summarized his class lecture with “Remember the Witches!“ 

If only the rest of his book was intelligible, I’d be all over it.  But here I am, blogging away again!

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