An earlier version of this article was presented as the IJURR Lecture at the 2011 meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Seattle, USA. The lecture is available on the IJURR website at http://www.ijurr.org. I am grateful to Louis Moreno and Bob Catterall, whose ongoing dialogue with me around this theme continues to prove invaluable.
The Urban Question under Planetary Urbanization
Article first published online: 11 SEP 2012
© 2012 Urban Research Publications Limited
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Volume 37, Issue 3, pages 909–922, May 2013
How to Cite
Merrifield, A. (2013), The Urban Question under Planetary Urbanization. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37: 909–922. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2427.2012.01189.x
- Issue published online: 24 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 11 SEP 2012
- Right to the city;
- Politics of the encounter;
- Henri Lefebvre;
- Planetary urbanization;
- Occupy movement
In Le Droit à la Ville (1968), Lefebvre projects the urban trajectory of his day into the sci-fi imaginary of Isaac Asimov's remarkable Foundation series, recognizing the germ of ‘Trantor’ in our midst, the planet of 40 billion inhabitants where urbanization has reached its absolute maximum; all 75 million square miles of Trantor's land surface are a single city. In La Révolution Urbaine (1970), Lefebvre had already begun hinting at a new reality, not only an urban society, but of planetary urbanization. Today, four decades on, Asimov's extraterrestrial universe seems closer to home than ever, and closer to Lefebvre's own terrestrial prognostications: planetary urbanization is creating a whole new spatial world (dis)order. But how shall we reclaim the shapeless, formless and boundless metropolis as a theoretical object and political object of the progressive struggle? If the arena of politics has no discernible form, what would be the form of these politics? What, exactly, are urban politics? This article tries to rethink theoretically the urban question and the question of urban politics in our era of planetary urbanization, working through the political role of the urban in the light of recent ‘Occupy’ mobilizations.