“Not out of sentiment but relevance”: David Harvey’s Rebel Cities reviewed


Following recent events across the globe, it is no surprise that reviewers of David Harvey’s Rebel Cities continue to easily locate the book in its contemporary context and commend its undeniable relevance.  Writing in the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote states that this latest work produced by Harvey, whom he hails as having always been “a consistent and intelligent voice on the left,” could not be better timed: 

In the past couple of years the squares and streets of the city have re- emerged in the most dramatic manner imaginable as a forum for public protest. From Cairo to Athens, from Madrid’s “Indignados” to America’s Occupy Wall Street movement and right up to the recently removed protesters outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London, urban centres all over the world have resonated with the chants of those who feel economically and politically disempowered.

Visit the Financial Times to read the review in full.

In Art Review, Justin McGuirk also comments on the contemporary significance of Rebel Cities, that “the first two chapters alone are essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the economic and social crises facing the modern metropolis.” Introducing the book, he writes:

With the political awakening last year of a ‘protest generation’ and military strategists turning to questions of handling urban insurrection, it is a timely moment for David Harvey’s Rebel Cities. In it, the eminent geographer, social theorist and Marxist minces no words in the expression of his goal, which is ‘collectively to build the socialist city on the ruins of destructive capitalist urbanization.’

Writing for the Guardian, Owen Hatherley commends the author’s analysis, deeming it ‘forensic and ferocious’ and stating that his frequent reference to the Paris Commune of 1872 is “not out of sentiment but relevance,” for, as Hatherley summarises Harvey’s claim “the left must be modern and urban or it will remain powerless.”

Visit the Guardian to read the review in full.

In a two-part video interview for the Guardian Comment is Free, David Harvey discusses in-depth with Oliver Laughland and Phil Maynard key concepts, such as the “urban crisis,” models of urbanisation and the situation in China, in the contemporary context.

Visit the Guardian to watch part 1 and part 2.

The New Internationalist’s review also highlights the book’s timely nature, concluding:

Accessible and largely free of jargon, Rebel Cities is an excellent primer for those who want to engage with the ferment of ideas emerging from the urban centres of anti-capitalist resistance.

In a conversation with New Left Project co-editors John Brissenden and Ed Lewis, Harvey addresses key themes in Rebel Cities such as the relationship between capitalism and urbanisation and the opposition to both of these, two topics which he states are integral to the book’s central argument. He also affords his views in detail on the Occupy movement, the dynamic of the people and the city they live in, urbanisation, organisation and the debates surrounding horizontalism, centralism and anarchism.

Visit the New Left Project to read part 1 and part 2 of the interview.


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