Peter Marcuse and Ronald van Kempen, Of States and Cities: The Partitioning of Urban Space

Peter Marcuse and Ronald van Kempen have long engaged other scholars regarding the development and change in urban space over the past 30 years. Many authors have examined globalization’s effects on such developments, emphasizing the role of banks, markets, transnational multinationals and mobilities of both capital and labor (think Sassen as the foremost scholar in this area). In contrast to narratives that devalue the nation-state, Marcuse and Kempen reassert the role of the state in urban spatial developments. Moreover, the Of States and Cities stresses the multiplicity of interests and government powers to illustrate that a monolithic view of government proves myopic. Of course, their previous work, Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? engaged this aspect as well. Here they return to expand on their previous conceptions of city’s partitions, “attempting to define in orderly fashion such terms as ‘ghetto’, ‘enclave’, ‘citadel’ …” For Marcuse, Kempen, and many of the work’s other contributors “the state has been a dominant force in creation and enforcing partitions, but that paralleling state political domination, economic forces have produced their own undercurrent of separation.”

Throughout history, cities display levels of partitioning, however, the forces behind such divisions do not remain static. If class, ethnicity or race serve as foundations for urban partitions in the modern city, its historical antecedents often divided early burgeoning metropolises along cultural, status (not necessarily the same as class i.e. individuals might be of the same income level but different status) and function. However, the conflict between function and status haunts cities for centuries, “Relations of status and function often conflict in their impact on space: employers like to have their employees close to their work, but not close to them. Cultural affinities may contradict status differences: within each group, linked by culture, there can be major differences of class as well of economic function. Interdependence and mutual hostility go hand in hand.” Marcuse points out that functional and cultural differences “are in general voluntary, divisions by status are not.” Thus, “the state’s role in establishing the involuntary lines of division that reflect status/power is in both events central in the active process we called ‘partitioning’ in this book. It is this partitioning along lines of power, implemented by the state, with which we are primarily concerned, for it is that which we consider the most threatening to the prospects for a democratic and just society. And it may be particularly damaging when it is reinforced by divisions of culture and/or function.” Marcuse juxtaposes the Colonial city, which he notes constructed the classical partitions of the ghetto and the citadel, the ghetto for the natives and the citadel for European occupiers. Of note, Marcuse acknowledges that while “racial segregation was an accompaniment of citadel formation” the two were not identical as status in colonial cities grew out of both economic and political significance. Moreover, spatially these ghettos lacked the exclusionary aspect of Fordist and Post-fordist cities (as well, Marcuse points out that these colonial cities resembled the kind of spatialization one might see in the segregated America southern cities), “ghettos in colonial cities were economically integrated with the societies in which they existed.” The rise of capitalism altered spatialization patterns as markets became the main arbiter, “within this general schema of market based allocation of space, however, a clear sequence of structural changes … is visible. The patterns of course overlap … Thus, the overlapping chronology of change is layered over earlier constructions of the built and natural environment.” The role of the state in spatialization changed with these developments. Government and quasi government powers effectively reinforced these spatialized divisions. Post Fordist cities increasingly removed manufacturing and industry from the city center, moving them to the periphery. The growth of edge cities, suburbs and the like grew in relation, additionally, one can also designate similar growth in citadels and exclusionary ghettos. Finally, socialist cities (as Marcuse, Janos Ladanyi (“Residential Segregation Among Social and Ethnic Groups in Budapest during the Post communist Transition”) and Grzegorz Weclawowicz “From Egalitarian Cities in Theory to Non Egalitarian Cities in Practice: The Changing Social and Spatial Patterns in Polish Cities,” all explore in their various articles) emerged with a spatialization that in theory avoided segregation by class and race but in practice failed to achieve such ends. In fact, the decline of the fordist economies along with the demise of the USSR resulted in post-communist cities undergoing even more intense polarization.

Of States and Cities includes essays (besides those mentioned above) on Sao Paulo (“Economic Restructuring and Urban Segregation in Sao Paulo” by Sueli Ramos Schiffer, Istanbul (“A Metropolis at the Crossroads: The Changing Social Geography of Istanbul under the Impact of Globalization” by Murat Guvenc and Oguz Isuk), Britain (“The Poor City: National and Local Perspectives on changes in Residential Patterns in th British City” by Peter Lee and Alan Murie), Holland (Towards Partitioned Cities in the Netherlands? Changing Patterns of Segregation in a Highly Developed Welfare State” by Ronald van Kempen, American ghettoization (The Shifting Meaning of the Black Ghetto in the United States” by Peter Marcuse) the role of place in social equality (“’Poverty Pockets’ and Social Exclusion: On the role of Place in Shaping Social Inequality” by Eva T. van Kempen) and advance marginality (“The Rise of Advanced marginality: Notes on it Nature and Implications” by Loic Wacquant). Though each offers unique perspectives on their various topics, a couple generalizations might be made. For example, the retreat of many governments from the welfare state has meant that in nations such as Holland where once class and ethnic diversity in various communities was not not uncommon, more market based approaches have shifted municipal funding from social housing (rentals) to ownership, resulting in greater class/ethnic polarization (of note, the growth of an Islamic population in the Netherlands has further complicated this process). Parallels might be made with recent American attempts (as outlined by Marcuse) to adopt market based approaches such as HOPE VI in the redevelopment of urban public housing. Each has displaced segments of the population. Likewise, formerly communist cities like Budapest and those in Poland display similar stratifications as former anti-communists benefitted from the collapse of communism but new spatial patterns have reduced egalitarianism, creating metropolises that while imperfect under socialism, emerge as increasingly polarized by class and ethnicity today.

Finally, the book’s afterword attempts to account for changes that may arise from the 9/11 attacks. Though Marcuse confines his conclusions to New York, he implies that the affect of terrorism may reverberate more broadly, limiting capital and labor flows (especially in regard to immigration), reducing economies of agglomeration (i.e. they become easy targets and ones that might devastate a country’s infrastruture were they to be destroyed) encouraging decentralization, further increasing polarization and segregation, while leading to muncipalities engaging in “deplanning” (i.e. “Positive government action is narrowly focused on the financial district of the city, and within it the support of real estate and business interestd; what is not being done, however, by contrast is legion … “ None of this, according to Marcuse bodes well for global cities.

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