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Book Review of "Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City...

Book Review of "Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution" by David Harvey

David Harvey is unabashedly political in his book “Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution,” published in 2012. He roots urban planning firmly in the realm of human rights and draws a distinct ‘line in the sand’ between cities which honor the rights of its citizens and those which have

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David Harvey is unabashedly political in his book "Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution," published in 2012. He roots urban planning firmly in the realm of human rights and draws a distinct ‘line in the sand’ between cities which honor the rights of its citizens and those which have been ‘bought out’ by greater powers.

“The results of this increasing polarization in the distribution of wealth and power are indelibly etched into the spatial forms of our cities.”

A professor at the City University of New York, David Harvey approaches the issues within urbanization academically - analyzing economic drivers of historic urban movements, connecting compartmentalized solutions to social failures, and noting shifts in societal perspectives as noteworthy in considering success in urban movements.

“Consumerism, tourism, cultural and knowledge-based industries, as well as perpetual resort to the economy of the spectacle, had become major aspects of urban political economy…”

"Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution" by David Harvey

He criticizes many modern solutions such as New Urbanism and the proliferation of property rights as only seemingly progressive, but ultimately serving only to relocate the social problems to another part of the city.

“These examples warn us of the existence of a whole battery of seemingly ‘progressive’ solutions that not only move the problem around but actually strengthen while simultaneously lengthening the golden chain that imprisons vulnerable and marginalized populations within orbits of capital circulation and accumulation.” 

Overall, the book is extremely methodical in addressing the scope of urban issues and offers unapologetic perspectives on what is good and bad in the realm of urban politics and economics. There’s much to be appreciated in Harvey’s analytical approach, but it mostly inspired (on my part at least) a desire to gather a greater pool of perspectives, within which to set his radical views.

What issues are being struggled with in your community? Is there enough civic participation to make the necessary changes? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

The Global Grid gave away three free copies of this book to three lucky people. Be sure to never miss one of our reviews. Follow #TheGlobalGridReads for our reviews and join our Goodreads group for opportunities to win free books in the future.
Credits: Creative Commons images provided courtesy of Lukas and Jonathan McIntosh. Updated December 7, 2017.

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Christine Cepelak is an emerging sustainability and corporate social responsibility professional in the Dallas, Texas area. Interested in how communities can facilitate connection, well-being, and equality, she has spent time serving on location in a...

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