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Geography Seminar Series: Garth Myers

Friday, September 27, 2019
12:20pm – 1:15pm

Storrs Campus
AUST 434

Rethinking Urbanism from Postcolonial Studies and the Global South

Over the last few decades in urban studies, a considerable critique and a vast opening of comparative urbanism arose out of postcolonial studies and southern theory, challenging universal understandings emanating from European and North American cities. This literature called into question the meaning of urbanism and the roles, functions and shapes of urban areas, when accepted understandings for these derive from Euro-American contexts and all other cities are measured against them. This talk builds on the opening toward re-centering global urban studies, through engagement with postcolonial studies and global South thinking. With the literature around planetary urbanization that sprang from French urbanist Henri Lefebvre’s (1970: 113) hypothesis of ‘the planetary nature of the urban phenomenon’ as a backdrop, I aim toward an analysis of select urban regions that have mostly remained off the map of urban studies and perceived as disconnected from one another. I use Hartford, Zanzibar, Port of Spain, San Juan, Cape Coast, Dakar, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou as starting places for conceptualizations built from postcolonial and southern thinking. My goal lies in providing practical, empirical illustrations and thick descriptions of the applicability of postcolonial and southern urban thought for addressing this new era of planetary urbanization. I examine transversal links between urbanization dynamics using the vision of transversality from Edouard Glissant (1989: 67) as an ‘invisible presence’ at the ‘roots of a cross-cultural relationship. Submarine roots…. not fixed in one position in some primordial spot, but extending in all directions in our world through its network of branches.’ In the words of Achille Mbembe (2017: 179): ‘No region of the world is spared from the logics of the distribution of violence on a planetary scale…. Thinking through what must come will of necessity be a thinking… in circulation, a thinking of crossings, a world-thinking.’ This talk will offer a tangible illustration of how smaller or lesser-studied southern urbanisms impact one another’s cultures and spaces in the circulations and crossings of this world-thinking.

Garth Myers is the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies and Director of the Center for Urban and Global Studies at Trinity College. Myers is the author of four books: Verandahs of Power: Colonialism and Space in Urban Africa (Syracuse, 2003), Disposable Cities: Garbage, Governance and Sustainable Development in Urban Africa (Ashgate, 2005), African Cities: Alternative Visions of Urban Theory and Practice (Zed, 2011), and Urban Environments in Africa: A Critical Analysis of Environmental Politics (Policy, 2016). He has co-edited two other books: Cities in Contemporary Africa (with Martin J. Murray; Palgrave, 2006, reissued in paperback, 2011) and Environment at the Margins:


Nat Trumbull []

Geography Department (primary), History Department, Sociology Department, UConn Master Calendar, Urban and Community Studies

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