Footnote Urbanism: The Missing East in (Not So) Global Urbanism
Müller, Martin. 2021.'“Footnote Urbanism: The Missing East in (Not so) Global Urbanism.' In Thinking Global Urbanism: Essays on the City and Its Future, edited by Michele Lancione and Colin McFarlane. London: Routledge.
11 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2020
Date Written: March 17, 2020
The cities of the Global Easts have become mere footnotes to contemporary global urbanism. I mean this metaphorically, although it is often true in a literal sense: cities of the Easts are frequently relegated to the footnotes of books and articles, reduced to mere afterthoughts for the sake of completeness. The footnote, of course, is not where the exciting action happens. It is for tucking away things you think you should mention but deem not important enough to put them in the running text. English playwright Noël Coward put it quite memorably: ‘Having to read a footnote resembles having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love’ (quoted in Grafton, 1999: 70). The Easts are thus the unwelcome disruption when you are busy with more exciting things in global urbanism. And let’s face it: for the most part, global urbanism has chosen not to go downstairs. The goal of this contribution is to rummage through the footnotes of global urbanism in order reconstruct the gaze of global urbanism and its blind spots with regard to the Global Easts. For only if one is aware of that gaze – and its silences – can one direct it elsewhere. The analysis in the rest of this piece focuses on one of those multiple Easts: those 30 countries, and their cities, that emerged from the fall of state socialism between 1989 and 1992 to form the post-socialist East. This East includes cities from Wrocław to Vladivostok, from Sarajevo to Samarkand, from Tirana to Tartu, as well as the largest city in Europe, Moscow.
Keywords: global urbanism, Global South, Global East
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