I will teach this course again in fall 2024. (We offer this course every other year.)
Below is the syllabus from the last time I offered the course (fall 2022).
I will post the updated syllabus by August 2022.
Please email me with any questions. Thank you, Scott Campbell

We meet Fridays 1-4 pm, 2227 Art & Architecture Building on North Campus. (map to room)
first class, Sept 2
If you are not sure if the course is a good fit for you, feel free to email me and/or simply attend the first session (Sept 2).

Course Description
This is a doctoral-level reading seminar on urban theory, with an emphasis on urban intellectual history and critical social theory.  It is intended for both doctoral students and advanced Masters students interested in deepening their theoretical understanding of cities, urbanization and spatial development.  Readings cover classic texts in urban theory (including the German and Chicago Schools), important late 20th Century writers (e.g., David Harvey, Henri Lefebvre, and Manuel Castells), and emergent themes in 21st century urban theory (such as global cities, urban political ecology, urbanism in the Anthropocene, postcolonialism, cyber/digital/virtual urbanism, planetary urbanism, etc.). The goal of the seminar is to understand not only the substance of the readings, but also the structure and development of their arguments. 

This course is required for doctoral urban planning students. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the readings and topics, students from other degree programs outside urban planning are also encouraged to attend. (In past years, we have had students from sociology, architecture, history, information, anthropology, SEAS and political science.) This course is taught every other year (2022, 2024, etc.), alternating with URP701 (Epistemology and Reasoning for Planning Research, taught fall 2021, 2023, etc.). Other theory courses of interest include URP500 (Planning Theory) , UP580 (Metropolitan Structures), URP 529/Arch523/UD713 (History of Urban Form).

Where does the city end and society begin? What do we make of the boundaries between the specific questions that urban planning (and allied fields) ask and the larger world of social theory? I encourage you to navigate these boundary issues two ways: Look at the broader questions and phenomena in society (inequality, human development, democracy, racism, gender, society-nature relations, nationalism, etc.) through the disciplinary framing of urban theory (concepts of space, place, urbanization, neighborhoods, etc.), just as I wish that you step outside of the discipline and view the specific theories and methods of urban analysis against the larger context of society.

Doctoral student status or permission of instructor. Masters students in planning, urban design and architecture should take URP500 (Planning Theory) -- or a similar introductory course on planning theory and/or urban theory -- before taking URP700. Please email me if you have questions or are interested in the course.

The readings include books, book chapters, and articles. Most of the readings will be available via Canvas. But a few readings are NOT available online. The one book all should purchase online is the David Harvey anthology (Spaces of Capital). See details below.

REQUIRED: David Harvey, Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography (Blackwell/Wiley). [NOT available online, so you will need to purchase a copy of this book.] We will use this book starting the week of Sept 23, so please obtain by Sept 16.

RECOMMENDED but NOT required: Simon Parker, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge). 2nd edition. [optional - a very useful, concise companion to urban theory, but not required.]


Scott Campbell (home page)AssignmentsStudent-Written Reading Notesoffice hours Canvas site • class listserv • theorist timeline •  Ebooks linkremembrances of Planning Scholarsplanning history timelinesend me anonymous feedback/comments

Sep 2

Sep 9
Sep 16
Sep 23
Sep 30
Harvey (cont) & Castells
Oct 7
Oct 14
Oct 21
Global Cities
Oct 28
Nov 4
Nov 11
Urban Politics
Nov 18
Urban Economies
Dec 2
Urban Futures
Dec 9

last modified: March 21, 2024


  • Note on reading sources:
  • The Urban Sociology Reader (edited by Lin and Mele, Routledge)
  • Spaces of Capital (Harvey, Routledge)
  • [if no source listed, then the reading can be found in Canvas]

Sept 2


We will introduce the course, the main themes and debates of urban theory, and tour the semester's readings.

optional background reading:

Storper, M and A Scott. 2016. Current debates in urban theory. Urban Studies, Vol. 53(6) 1114–1136 [in Canvas]

[note: I have also included several related readings in Canvas in case you want to read other articles linked to this on-going debate]


Sept 9

Classic Readings in Urban Theory: the German School (plus other foundational ideas )

Engels, Friedrich. 1845. "The Great Towns", in Condition of the Working Class in England. (online reading)
Tonnies, Ferdinand. Community and Society, in Lin and Mele (eds.), The Urban Sociology Reader (Routledge). [German original via Hathi Trust: Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft] see also this Ebooks online version.
Simmel, Georg. The Metropolis and Mental Life, in The Urban Sociology Reader. [also in Canvas]
Weber, Max. 1958. The City. Translated by D. M. a. G. Neuwirth. New York: Free Press; 1st Collier Books edition. (chapter: "The Nature of Cities")
Frisby, David. 2001. Cityscapes of modernity : critical explorations. Cambridge ; Malden, MA: Polity Press in association with Blackwell. (Chapter 3: The City Interpreted: Georg Simmel's Metropolis)
Benjamin, Walter. 1969. "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," in Illuminations. Edited and with an introduction by Hannah Arendt. Translated by Harry Zohn. New York,: Schocken Books. (originally published 1936).
Parker, Simon, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge). pp. 1-19.

see also:

Sennett, R. (Ed.). (1969). Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. ("Introduction") [newly added to Canvas]
Georg Simmel Online (in German and English)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt) [film via archive.org)
Benjamin, Walter. 1968. Illuminations. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt [no longer available via Ebooks -- will look for alternative source]
Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. [online via archive.org] [summary and full text of the Harvard University Press edition]
Coetzee, JM, 2001, The Marvels of Walter Benjamin, The New York Review of Books, JANUARY 11
background information on "Manchester in the 19th century" (the setting of Engels' 1845 writing).

be sure to read the student-created "reading guide" before class.


Sept 16

Classic Readings in Urban Theory: the Chicago School (and beyond)

Note: I have divided readings into three groups: (1) the core required readings (for all to read), including both original texts by "the Chicago School" (e.g., Park, Burgess, Wirth) and more recent critiques/commentaries (e.g., Gans, Fischer, Saunders), plus two short readings (Mumford, Lynch) that don't fit into the Chicago School but I wanted to make sure we all read and discuss these two important urbanists (though if you DO see connections to the Chicago School, I welcome your insights!) ; (2) highly recommended but not required; (3) even more readings (wholly optional).

1. The Core Readings for the week (to be included in the reading notes)
Park, Robert, Human Ecology, in The Urban Sociology Reader. [also in Canvas]
Burgess, Ernest, The Growth Of The City: An Introduction To A Research Project, in The Urban Sociology Reader. [also in Ebooks as a chapter in Marzluff, Alberti, et al (eds). Urban Ecology : An International Perspective on the Interaction Between Humans and Nature. Boston, MA, US: Springer, 2008, pp. 71-78. [Ebooks]
Wirth, Louis. 1938. Urbanism as a Way of Life, in The Urban Sociology Reader. [also in Canvas]

Gans, Herbert, Urbanism and Suburbanism as Ways of Life: A Reevaluation of Definitions. in Canvas. also in The Urban Sociology Reader (first edition only). [also available via google books]
Fischer, Claude, Theories of Urbanism, in The Urban Sociology Reader. [eBooks]
Saunders, Peter. "The Urban as an Ecological Community," in Social Theory and the Urban Question. London: Hutchinson & Co. 1981, pp. 48-79.

Mumford, Lewis. 1937. What is a city? Architectural Record LXXXII (November).
Lynch, Kevin. 1974. The Pattern of the Metropolis. In An urban world, edited by C. Tilly. Boston,: Little Brown.

2. High Recommended But not Required
Parker, Simon, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge). Ch. 3.

Daphne Spain. 2011.The Chicago of Jane Addams and Ernest Burgess Same City, Different Visions. in Judd, Dennis R., and Simpson, Dick, eds. 2011. City, Revisited : Urban Theory from Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Ebook. (See also the final chapter: Studying Twenty-first Century Cities)

3. Even More Readings (wholly optional)
Glass, Ruth. 1989. "Uneasy Partnership: The Application of Sociological Knowledge to Regional and Town Planning." In Clichés of urban doom and other essays, xxii, 266 p. Oxford [Oxfordshire] ; New York, NY: B. Blackwell. [link]
Claude S. Fischer. 1972. "Urbanism as a Way of Life": A Review and an Agenda. Sociological Methods & Research November 1: 187-242.
Fischer, Claude S. 1995 The Subcultural Theory of Urbanism: A Twentieth-Year Assessment. American Journal of Sociology 101: 543-77.
Park, Robert E. 1925. Suggestions for the Investigation of human Behavior in the Urban Environment. In The City, edited by R. E. Park, E. W. Burgess and R. D. MacKenzie. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Judd, Dennis R., Dick Simpson, and Janet L. Abu-Lughod (eds). 2011. The City Revisited: Urban Theory from Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press. [Ebooks] see, in particular, Ch. 3: Daphne Spain: "The Chicago of Jane Addams and Ernest Burgess: Same City, Different Visions" (pp. 51-62]
Low, Jacqueline, and Gary Bowden, eds. 2013. The Chicago School Diaspora : Epistemology and Substance. Montreal, CA: MQUP. see in particular, the first chapter: "Introduction: The Chicago School as Symbol and Enactment" [Ebooks]
Wirth, 1945, Human Ecology, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 50, No. 6, May, 1945, pp. 483-488.



Sep 23

David Harvey and a Geographical View of Capitalism
Harvey, David. 2001. Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography. Routledge. Chs. 1-4; 6-11 [you can skip Ch 5]

Parker, Simon, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge). Ch. 6.

see also:
Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey (with both video and audio links)
"A Brief History of Neoliberalism" (Audio of lecture by Harvey)
A 2004 Interview with David Harvey (audio, video, text)
Harvey, David. "Possible Urban Worlds" (Fourth Megacities Lecture, 2000)
Harvey, David. Social Justice and the City (revised version) .Ebooks.
Harvey, David. 2007. Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press. [Ebooks]

background on von Thünen:
Johann-Heinrich von Thünen: Balancing Land-Use Allocation with Transport Cost (by Scott Crosier)
Johann-Heinrich von Thünen (Resources) (Krumme, U. Washington)


Sep 30

David Harvey (cont.) and Manuel Castells (from "the Urban Question" to the Internet)

Harvey Chs. 12, 14 -18


Castells, Manuel. 1977. The urban question : a Marxist approach. (translation of La question urbaine by Alan Sheridan). London: Edward Arnold. [read Section II: "The Urban Ideology, pp. 73-112].

Castells, Manuel. 2010. The Space of Flows (Ch 6), in The Rise of the Network Society (2nd edition). Wiley. [access online via UM Library]. chapter also in Canvas.

see also:
Interview with Manuel Castells, Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley (May 9, 2001)

Castells, Manuel. 2009. Power of Identity : Economy, Society, and Culture (2nd Edition). Wiley-Blackwell. [Ebooks]

Oct 7

Henri Lefebvre and the Production of Space

  • Lefebvre, Henri. 1991. The production of space. Oxford, UK ; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell. (Ch: "Plan of the Present Work") [this is the core reading for the week -- concentrate on this text] [in Canvas]
  • Lefebvre, Henri Interviews: Writings on Cities (No Salvation away from the Centre? / The Urban in Question) 1996
  • Stanek, Lukasz. 2011. Henri Lefebvre on Space : Architecture, Urban Research, and the Production of Theory. University of Minnesota Press. [eBooks] (CH 1. Henri Lefebvre: The Production of Theory) [NOTE: Prof. Stanek, from the architecture program, will kindly join us for our discussion this week.]

Selectively read these secondary texts to understand the context, interpretation and impacts of Lefebvre's ideas on space:
Brenner, Neil. 2000. "The urban question as a scale question: reflections on Henri Lefebvre, urban theory and the politics of scale,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 24, 2: 361-378 link
Brenner, N., & Elden, S. (2001). Henri Lefebvre in Contexts: An Introduction. Antipode, 33(5), 763-768. doi: 10.1111/1467-8330.00215
Elden, S. (2004). Understanding Henri Lefebvre : theory and the possible. London ; New York: Continuum. (Ch 5: "Space and History")
Elden, S. (2007). There is a politics of space because space is political: Henri Lefebvre and the production of space. Radical Philosophy Review, 10(2), 101-116.
Gottdiener, Mark. 1994. "Urban Ecology, Economics and Geography: Spatial Analysis in Transition " in The social production of urban space. 2nd ed. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Gottdiener, M. (1993). A Marx for Our Time: Henri Lefebvre and the Production of Space. Sociological Theory, 11(1), 129-134.
Parker, Simon, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience, pp. 19-24.

see also these books in Ebooks:
Lefebvre, Henri. 2010. Everyday Life in the Modern World (2nd Edition). London: Continuum International Publishing.
Lefebvre, Henri. 2009. State, Space, World : Selected Essays. (edited by Stuart Elden and Neil Brenner). University of Minnesota Press.
Shields, Rob. 1998. LeFebvre, Love, and Struggle : Spatial Dialectics. Routledge.
Gardiner, Michael. 2000. Critiques of Everyday Life : Introduction. Routledge.
*Hubbard, Phil. 2006. The city, Key ideas in geography. London: Routledge. (Ch 3, "The Everyday City") [to be scanned and added]

OPTION: review the influences of Lefebvre on Soja's Postmodern Geographies: the Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory) google book version



Oct 14

Modernism, Modernization & Urban Development: International Perspectives

Holston, James. 1989. The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Brasilia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (read: pp. 41-58 (part of ch2); 74-98 (part of ch3] [in Canvas]. alternate version: google book version (limited view)
(see also this article on Oscar Niemeyer and Brasilia: Michael Kimmelman, 2005. The Last of the Moderns. The New York Times. May 15.)

Mitchell, Timothy. 2002. Rule of experts: Egypt, techno-politics, modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Comments/links: • [Ebooks] (read Chapter 3: The Character of Calculability, pp. 80-119).

Robinson, Jennifer. 2006. Ordinary cities: between modernity and development. London ; New York: Routledge. (Introduction, Chs. 1, 2, 4). [Canvas]

Scott, James C.. The Institution for Social and Policy Studies : Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, US: Yale University Press, 2008. (Chapter 3. Authoritarian High Modernism; and Ch. 4, The High-Modernist City. Ch. 9 also included in the Canvas scan, but not required reading for the week). [also, the full text is in Ebooks].

Watson, Vanessa. 2002. The Usefulness of Normative Planning Theories in the Context of Sub-Saharan Africa. Planning Theory 1 (1):27-52. [Canvas]

see also:
Loos, Adolf. "Ornament and Crime," in Ornament and Crime: Selected Essays, translated by Michael Mitchell, edited by Adolf Opel. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 1998, pp. 167-176.
Le Corbusier. "A Contemporary City," in The City of To-Morrow and Its Planning, translated by Frederick Etchells, New York: Dover, 1987, pp. 163-178.
Latour, Bruno. 1993. We have never been modern. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. [selections]
Perlman, Janice E. 1976. The myth of marginality : urban poverty and politics in Rio de Janeiro. Berkeley: University of California Press. google book version
a selection from Anthony King, such as Spaces of Global Culture, etc.
Taylor, Peter J. Modernities : A Geohistorical Interpretation. Minneapolis, US: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. [Ebooks]



Oct 21

Globalization, Global Cities (see class blog: "Visualizing the Global/National/Local") [move to after geography]

John Friedmann, The World City Hypothesis, in The Urban Sociology Reader.
Saskia Sassen, Whose City Is It? Globalization and the Formation of New Claims , in The Urban Sociology Reader.
Michael Peter Smith, Power in Place: Retheorizing the Local and the Global [added to Canvas]
King, Anthony. 1995. Re-presenting world Cities:  cultural theory/social practice, in Paul L., and Peter J. Taylor, eds. 1995. World Cities in a World-System. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Peck, Jamie 2015. Cities beyond Compare? Regional Studies, 49(1), 160–182.
Roy, Ananya. 2015. "What is urban about critical urban theory?" Urban Geography.

new additions might include:

Wood, Astrid. 2020. Decolonising cities of the global South in the classroom and beyond. Town Planning Review: Volume 91, Issue 5, September. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2020.30

Adams, David;Andres, Lauren;Denoon-Stevens, Stuart Paul;Melgaço, Lorena . 2020. Challenges, opportunities and legacies: experiencing the internationalising of UK planning curricula across space and time Town Planning Review: Volume 91, Issue 5, September DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2020.29

Urban Theory Beyond the West : A World of Cities, edited by Tim Edensor, and Mark Jayne, Taylor & Francis Group, 2011. 

background readings:
Peter Hall,  "Megacities, world cities and global cities"
Dicken, Peter. 2004. Geographers and ‘globalization’: (yet) another missed boat? Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 29 (1):5-26.J.V. Beaverstock, R.G. Smith and P.J. Taylor, "A Roster of World Cities"
P. Hall, "Christaller for a Global Age: Redrawing the Urban Hierarchy"
Saskia Sassen. The City: Between topographic representation and spatialized power projects Art Journal. Summer 2001. Vol.60, Iss. 2;  pg. 12.
Scott, A. J. (2008). Social economy of the metropolis : cognitive-cultural capitalism and the global resurgence of cities. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. (Ch: 7. "City-Regions: Economic Motors and Political Actors on the Global Stage") [Ebooks] -- OR -- Scott, Allen, John Agnew, Edward J. Soja, and Michael Storper. 2001. "Global City-Regions," in Global City-Regions: Trends Theory, Prospects. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press (Scott, Allen, ed.).
Amin, Ash and Nigel Thrift. "Cities in a Distanciated Economy," in Cities: Reimagining the Urban. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Inc. 2002, pp. Ch. 3: p.51 - p.77.
Brenda S. A. Yeoh and T. C. Chang. Globalizing Singapore: Debating Transnational Flows in the City. in The Urban Sociology Reader.
McCann, E., & Ward, K. (2011). Mobile urbanism : cities and policymaking in the global age. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (Globalization and Community series) ("Introduction. Urban Assemblages: Territories, Relations, Practices, and Power") [Ebooks]

see also:
Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network, Loughborough University, UK and their on-line publications.
Jan Lin, Globalization and the Revalorizing of Ethnic Places in Immigration Gateway Cities , in The Urban Sociology Reader.
Paul Stoller and Jasmin Tahmaseb McConath, City Life: West African Communities in New York, in The Urban Sociology Reader.
Saskia Sassen. 2000. The global city: Strategic site/new frontier American Studies. Summer 2000.Vol.41, Iss. 2/3;  pg. 79.
Saskia Sassen. 2000. New frontiers facing urban sociology at the Millennium. The British Journal of Sociology. Andover: Jan/Mar 2000.Vol.51, Iss. 1;  pg. 143
Storper, Michael. 1997. The Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy. New York: Guilford Press. (excerpt: Chapter 8, "The Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy", pp. 195-220).
Waldinger, Roger. 1996. From Ellis Island to LAX: Immigrant prospects in the American city. The International Migration Review. New York: Winter 1996. Vol.30, Iss. 4;  pp. 1078-86. pdf.
The Guardian: The rise of megacities – interactive [link]



Oct 28

First Nature, Second Nature -or- the Interaction of Cities and the Natural Environment -or- Urban Infrastructure and the Commodification of Natural Resources (see class blog: urbantheorynature.tumblr.cm)

NOTE: this week only: we meet from 1:45 pm to 4:30 pm.

introduction: what is "nature"?
McHarg, Ian L. 1969. Design with nature. Garden City, N.Y.: Natural History Press. (excerpt: pp. 1-29)

Williams, Raymond. 1980. "Ideas of Nature," in Culture And Materialism: Selected Essays. London: Verso, pp. 67-85.

Cronon, William. 1995. The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. in William Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 69-90. [link]

water and the city:
Gandy, Matthew. 2002. Concrete and clay : reworking nature in New York City, Urban and industrial environments. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (Chapter 1: "Water, Space and Power," pp. 19-75) [NOTE: electronic text also available online via UM Library's NetLibrary.] *do also read the very useful introduction.

Karvonen, A. (2011). Politics of urban runoff : nature, technology, and the sustainable city. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (Ch 1- The Dilemma of Water in the City). [Ebooks]

Kaika, Maria, and Erik Swyngedouw. "Fetishizing the Modern City: The Phantasmagoria of Urban Technological Networks." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol. 24, No. 1, March 2000, pp. 120-138.

urban political ecology:
Loftus, Alex. 2014. Everyday Environmentalism : Creating an Urban Political Ecology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. [Ebooks] [chapters: Introduction: Emerging Moments in an Urban Political Ecology; ]

Nik Heynen, and Maria Kaika and Erik Swyngedouw. 2006. "Urban political ecology: politicizing the production of urban natures," in In the nature of cities : urban political ecology and the politics of urban metabolism. Routledge. (Ch. 1, pp. 1-20). [see also google books version]


see also:

Corner, James. 2006. Terra Fluxus, in Waldheim, Charles (ed.). Landscape Urbanism Reader. New York, US: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. [Ebooks]

Waldheim, Charles. 2006. Landscape Urbanism, in Waldheim, Charles (ed.). Landscape Urbanism Reader. New York, US: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. [Ebooks]

Eric Sagara, Emmanuel Martinez and Ike Sriskandarajah. When spark meets sprawl: Building in wildlands increases fire risk. Reveal: from the Center for Investigative Reporting. October 8, 2016. [both a story and a podcast, examining the human-nature interactions when people live in fire zones.]

Smith, Neil (1990). Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell. [link] [also on canvas]
Moore, Steven A. (2001) Technology, Place, and the Nonmodern Thesis. Journal of Architectural Education 54(3), pp. 130–139.
Jennifer Wolch. 2007. Green Urban Worlds. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 97(2), pp. 373–384
Olwig, Kenneth R. "Landscape, Place and the State of Progress," in Progress: Geographical Essays, edited by Robert D. Sack Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 2002, pp. 22-60.
Cronon, William. 1991. Nature's metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton.[excerpt to be selected] -- or selection from
Beatley, Timothy. (1995) Planning and Sustainability: The Elements of a New (Improved?) Paradigm [link to be added]
Wheeler, Stephen M. (2002) The New Regionalism: Key Characteristics of an Emerging Movement.
Arsenault, Raymond. 1984. The End of the Long Hot Summer: The Air Conditioner and Southern Culture. The Journal of Southern History 50 (4):597-628.
Reisner, M. 1993. Cadillac desert: the American West and its disappearing water. revised ed. New York and London: Penguin Books. [chapter excerpts: "A Semidesert with a Desert Heart" and "A Country of Illusion," pp. 1-51.] (see also google book preview)
Monstadt, J. (2009). Conceptualizing the political ecology of urban infrastructures: insights from technology and urban studies. Environment and Planning A, 41(8), 1924-1942.
Robbins, P. (2011). Critical Introductions to Geography : Political Ecology (2nd Edition). Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons [Ebooks]
William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel, "Urban Ecological Footprints: Why Cities Cannot Be Sustainable—And Why They Are A Key to Sustainability", in The Urban Sociology Reader (2nd edition).
Angelo, H., & Wachsmuth, D. (2014). Urbanizing Urban Political Ecology: A Critique of Methodological Cityism. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. [added 11/12/2014]

Nov 4

The Geographic Imagination: Guest: Prof. Kim Kinder

Mitchell, Timothy. Colonising Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. (Chapter 1) [Note: Ch 1 in Canvas; the full text in eBooks]

Pickles, John. (2004) A History of Spaces: Cartographic reason, mapping, and the geo-coded world. New York: Routledge. Chapters 1, 3, and 7 [eBooks]

Weizman, Eyal. Hollow land: Israel's architecture of occupation. Verso Books, 2012. (Chapter 1) [Canvas]

Craib, Raymond. (2004) Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes. Durham, NC: Duke. (Chapter 2) [Ch 2 in Canvas; the full text in eBooks]


other geographic readings of interest (beyond today's assigned readings above)

Schorske, Carl E. Fin-de-siècle Vienna: politics and culture. Vintage, 1980. (Chapter 2)

Mitchell, Katharyne. Crossing the neoliberal line: Pacific Rim migration and the metropolis. Temple University Press, 2004. (Chapter 5)

Rojas, James. “The enacted environment.” In Everyday America, edited by Chris Wilson and Paul Groth, 275-292Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.




Nov 11

Urban Politics: Urban Regimes, Growth Machines, Power, Class and Race

Rothstein, R. (2017). The color of law: a forgotten history of how our government segregated America. New York ; London: Liveright Publishing Corporation. [linked in Canvas] We will focus most of our time on a deep dive into this book. Please read at least through Ch 6 (Preface, Ch 1-6).

Harvey Molotch (1993) The Political Economy of Growth Machines, Journal of Urban Affairs, 15:1, 29-53. (The idea of the growth machine -- ruling elites in cities that promote the agenda of strong concentrated growth and excluding/opposing social movements/organizations that work against their interest -- has been a central theme in much research about urban growth, economic development and urban politics.)

other readings of interest (not required this week):

  • Rae, D. W. (2003). City : urbanism and its end. New Haven: Yale University Press. [eBook]
  • Mossberger, K., & Stoker, G. (2001). The Evolution of Urban Regime Theory: The Challenge of Conceptualization. Urban Affairs Review, 36(6), 810–835. https://doi.org/10.1177/10780870122185109.
  • Susan Fainstein, The City Builders.
  • Clarence Stone, Uneven Partnerships.
  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership [access through Project Muse]
  • Beryl Satter, Follow Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America [highly recommended book, but not available online]
  • Goetz, Edward G. New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice, and Public Housing Policy. Cornell University Press, 2013. [eBooks]
  • Nuno F. da Cruz, Philipp Rode & Michael McQuarrie (2019) New urban governance: A review of current themes and future priorities, Journal of Urban Affairs, 41:1, 1-19, DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2018.1499416
  • Easterling, Keller. Extrastatecraft?: The Power of Infrastructure Space. Verso, 2014. [online via EBSCO]




Nov 18

The City as Market, Factory, Commodity and Site of Innovation: Urban Theory's Encounters with Economics

This week we explore three prominent books. Each offers a distinctive vision of cities and their economies. We begin with Jane Jacobs' second book, The Economy of Cities (1969). Less read and known than her first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, this text is in some ways more ambitious and offers a more sophisticated analysis of the workings of cities. (I have included a review by John Friedmann, the legendary planning theorist at UCLA.) The second text is Alain Bertaud’s Order Without Design, which asserts the advantages of market-based approaches to organizing cities over conventional urban planning interventions. The third is the popular press-oriented Triumph of the City by Harvard economist Ed Glaeser, a highly-promoted text that embodied the post-Urban Crisis / pre-COVID era of the tech & global finance-driven "back-to-the-city" enthusiasm. (I include two trenchant critiques of the book -- by the geographers Allen Scott and Jamie Peck -- that might serve as the needed salt and vinegar to Glaeser's overly sweet meringue of urban boosterism.)

Jacobs, Jane. (1969). The Economy of Cities. New York: Vintage Press. [Read: Ch 1: Cities First—Rural Development Later; Ch 2 How New Work Begins; Ch 3 The Valuable Inefficiencies and Impracticalities of Cities.] [text in Canvas]

  • Friedmann, John. (1970). Review Symposium: The Economy of Cities. Jane Jacobs. New York: (Random House, 1969). Urban Affairs Quarterly5(4), 474–480.

Bertaud, A. (2018). Order without design: how markets shape cities. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. [Read: Ch 1: Economists and Urban Planners: Two Visions of Cities That Need to Be Merged; Ch 3: Formation of Urban Spatial Structures:
Markets versus Design; Ch 8: Urban Planners and Urban Economists Have an Important Role to Play If They Manage to Work Together] [these three chapters in Canvas; the entire book available online via EBSCO].

Glaeser, E. L. (2011). Triumph of the city : how our greatest invention makes us richer, smarter, greener, healthier, and happier. New York: Penguin Press. Ch1: What Do They Make in Bangalore?; Ch 2: Why Do Cities Decline?; Ch 9: How Do Cities Succeed? [online via EBSCO] [note: I have included three chapters here -- read just enough to get a sense of his core argument and analytical approach. And then read the two critical reviews below.]

  • Scott, A. (2012). a review of Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier – By Edward Glaeser. Economic Geography, 88, 97-100. doi:10.2307/41474071
  • Peck, J. (2016). Economic Rationality Meets Celebrity Urbanology: Exploring Edward Glaeser's City. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40.

Background readings:

  • Chinitz, Benjamin. 1961. Contrasts in Agglomeration: New York and Pittsburgh. Journal of the American Economic Association (May):279-289
  • Krugman, Paul. "Localization," in Geography and Trade. Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press, 1991, pp. 35-67.
  • North, Douglass C. "Location Theory and Regional Economic Growth." Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 63, No. 3, June 1955, pp. 243-258.
  • Tiebout, Charles M. "Exports and Regional Economic Growth." Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 64, No. 2, April 1956, pp. 160-164.
  • Tiebout, Charles M. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures." Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 64, No. 5, October 1956, pp. 416-424.
  • Glaeser, Edward L. "Why Economists Still Like Cities." City Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1996, pp. 70-77.


No class Nov 25: Thanksgiving holiday week

Dec 2

Urban Futures: Smart Cities, Cyber Cities, Virtual Cities, Digital Slums? [readings updated Nov 21]

We will engage such issues as the tension between upbeat techno futures of smart cities (with sensors and personalized experiences) and distopian warnings about high security, privatization and the loss of privacy. How will automated vehicles, ubiquitous computing, urban sensors, etc. intersect with traditional design and planning? How will this future collide with climate change, growing inequality and threats to democracy? How do past experiences with urban futurisms (e.g., Garden Cities, City Beautiful, High Modernism, etc.) offer us lessons about the optimism and shortcomings of predicting wonderful cities of the future?

Sadowski, J., & Levenda, A. M. (2020). The anti-politics of smart energy regimes. Political Geography, 81, 102202. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102202

Sadowski, Jathan. “The Internet of Landlords: Digital Platforms and New Mechanisms of Rentier Capitalism.” Antipode, vol. 52, no. 2, Oxford: Wiley Subscription Services, Inc, pp. 562–80, doi:10.1111/anti.12595

Kitchin, Rob and Dodge, Martin. Code/Space?: Software and Everyday Life. MIT Press, 2011. [read at least the introduction] [full text available online via UM Library link]

Datta, A. (2015). New urban utopias of postcolonial India: ‘Entrepreneurial urbanization’ in Dholera smart city, Gujarat. Dialogues in Human Geography5(1), 3–22. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.umich.edu/10.1177/2043820614565748

Shannon Mattern. 2017. A City Is Not a Computer. Places. February. [link]

Shannon Mattern. 2013. Methodolatry and the Art of Measure. The new wave of urban data science. Places. November. [link]

McFarlane, Colin, and Ola Söderström. 2017. "On alternative smart cities." City 21 (3-4):312-328. doi: 10.1080/13604813.2017.1327166.

Safransky, Sara. 2019. "Geographies of Algorithmic Violence: Redlining the Smart City." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research n/a (n/a). doi: 10.1111/1468-2427.12833.


background readings:
Goodspeed, Robert. 2015. “Smart Cities: Moving beyond Urban Cybernetics to Tackle Wicked Problems: Figure 1.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, vol. 8, no. 1.

Green, Ben, and Franklin-Hodge, Jascha. The Smart Enough City?: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future. MIT Press, 2019. [UM Library digital copy]

Zandbergen, Dorien, and Justus Uitermark. 2020. "In search of the Smart Citizen: Republican and cybernetic citizenship in the smart city." Urban Studies 57 (8):1733-1748. doi: 10.1177/0042098019847410.

Ian Austen and Daisuke Wakabayashi. 2020. Google Sibling Abandons Ambitious City of the Future in Toronto. The New York Times. May 7. [link]

Laura Forlano. 2015. Towards an Integrated Theory of the Cyber-Urban Digital Materiality and Networked Media at Multiple Scales. DCS | Digital Culture and Society | Vol. 1, Issue 1.

Laura Forlano. Decentering the Human in the Design of Collaborative Cities. DesignIssues: Volume 32, Number 3 Summer 2016.

Lung-Amam, Willow, Ariel H. Bierbaum, Sheri Parks, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Gail Sunderman, and Lauren Stamm. 2019. "Toward Engaged, Equitable, and Smart Communities: Lessons From West Baltimore." Housing Policy Debate:1-19. doi: 10.1080/10511482.2019.1672082.

Fernandez-Anez, Victoria, José Miguel Fernández-Güell, and Rudolf Giffinger. 2018. "Smart City implementation and discourses: An integrated conceptual model. The case of Vienna." Cities 78:4-16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2017.12.004.

Michael Bell & Eunjeong Seong (2017) Cities of Clarified Energy: Houston and Palo Alto, Technology|Architecture + Design, 1:1, 9-15,
Pericle Salvini, Urban robotics: Towards responsible innovations for our cities, Robotics and Autonomous Systems (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.robot.2017.03.007
Haken H., Portugali J. (2017) Smart Cities: Distributed Intelligence or Central Planning?. In: Rassia S., Pardalos P. (eds) Smart City Networks. Springer Optimization and Its Applications, vol 125. Springer, Cham
Paul Münzner, Urban Planners Obsolete Someday? planning Algorithms gain ground.
Richard Florida. 2017. When Artificial Intelligence Rules the City. Citylab.
Charlie Jane Anders. 2010. Could self-aware cities be the first forms of artificial intelligence?
Katharine Schwab. 2017. AI Is Reshaping What We Know About Cities
Shannon Mattern. 2017. Mapping’s Intelligent Agents. Places. September.



Dec 9

Final Session

(start time: 1:30 pm; see email for alternative location)

Parker, Simon, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge). Ch. 9.

This last session will provide an opportunity to link common themes from the semester and articulate a set of core questions, principles and debates in urban theory.

TASKFor instructions, go to assignment page.



Below are some additional topics and readings of interest, but didn't find space into this year's syllabus:

Turning the Urban Base vs. Cultural Superstructure on its Head: Culture, Urban Politics and the Future of Social Spaces

Sharon Zukin, Whose Culture? Whose City?, in The Urban Sociology Reader (both 1st and 2nd editions).
Richard Florida, Cities and the Creative Class, in The Urban Sociology Reader (both 1st and 2nd editions).
Teresa P. R. Caldeira, Fortified Enclaves: The New Urban Segregation, in The Urban Sociology Reader (both 1st and 2nd editions).
S. E. Merry, Spatial Governmentality and the New Urban Social Order: Controlling Gender Violence through Law, in The Urban Sociology Reader (2nd edition).
Alejandro Portes and Robert D. Manning, The Immigrant Enclave: Theory and Empirical Examples, in The Urban Sociology Reader (2nd edition).
Michael Dear. 2002. Los Angeles and the Chicago School: Invitation to a Debate. City & Community 1(1):5-32, in The Urban Sociology Reader (both 1st and 2nd editions) [also in Canvas].
Parker, Simon, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City (Routledge). Chs. 7-8.

optional, see also:
Soja, Edward W. 1999. In different spaces: The cultural turn in urban and regional political economy. European Planning Studies. Abingdon: Feb 1999. Vol. 7, Iss. 1; p. 65-75. pdf. [also Canvas]
Gottdiener, Mark Hutchison, Ray. 2010. New Urban Sociology (4th Edition) . Boulder, CO: Westview Press. [ebrary]


Alternative Geography session:

This session examines recent debates on planetary urbanization within a much longer history of city-hinterland relations and their theorization. Geographers have explored relations between cities and the multi-scalar transformations of nature upon which they depend using a range of theoretical tools: classic notions of cities and their hinterlands; old and new thinking on cities' role in producing resource frontiers, peripheries, and territorial space; new adapted concepts such as the metabolic rift. We will survey these ideas theoretically and using examples of their concrete realization in particular places and times.

possible readings include:

Brenner, Neil and Christian Schmid (2015) "Towards a New Epistemology of the Urban?" City 19.2-3: 151-182

Walker, Richard (2015) "Building a Better Theory of the Urban: A Response to 'Towards a New Epistemology of the Urban?'" City 19.2-3: 183-191

Shaw, Kate (2015) "Planetary Urbanisation: What does it Matter for Politics or Practice?" Planning Theory & Practice 16.4: 588-593

Cronon, William (1991) "Ch. 3: Pricing the Future: Grain," selection in Nature's Metropolis, pp. 97-132

Moore, Jason W. (2000) "Environmental Crises and the Metabolic Rift in World-Historical Perspective," Organization and Environment 13: 123-157

Brechin, Gray (2006) "Preface," "Introduction," and "Ch.1: The Pyramid of Mining" In Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin, pp. xxix-xxxiv, 1-13, 14-70