THE GEOGRAPHY, POLITICS, AND ARCHITECTURE OF CITIES: Studies in the Creation and Complexification of Culture

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The urban environment encapsulates an infinite variety of activities which are constantly in the state of flux. The disciplines that inform the study of urbanism are diverse such as sociology, history, geography, political science, urban planning, international relations, environmental studies, and literary criticism. Each discipline approaches urbanism differently but not isolated from those that also study it. The scholarly literature in urbanism is one of the most interesting because of the multifaceted approaches and perspectives employed to examine urban areas, the dynamic nature of urban areas themselves, and the varied analyses of urban settings.

This book represents a “slice” of the variety that characterizes the urbanism literature. The multidisciplinary analyses and the dual focus on the developed and developing worlds provide, on one hand, an innovative view of the complexities of modern urban life around the world; on the other hand the chapters direct our attention to the challenges confronted by governments and societies to organize daily lives in an increasingly urbanized planet.

The perspectives on urban environments presented in this book are a refreshing vision of urbanism that will intrigue and enlighten its readers. They capture the complexity of urban centers as places of politics, production, conflict, social interactions and dislocations, innovation, and where the local meets the global.


“… provides us with a world-wide approach to help us escape our own provincialism and help us learn how our city is like other cities in the world, and how it might be different. As we read these chapters we can learn some specific content, better yet, we have opportunity to learn other ways to think about the city.” – Prof. B. Stanley Bittinger, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

“… brings together a diversity of perspectives on both planning and urbanism, which variously challenge or complement in well justified fashion the more traditional analyses.” – Prof. George Pomeroy, Shippensburg University

“This is an unusually international and interdisciplinary collection of essays on the modern city. Authors and subject matters come from Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, [the] United States, Bulgaria, Spain, Germany, and China among others. Among the Disciplines represented are Geography, Political Science, Architecture, Literary Studies, Economics, History, Cultural Studies, and Linguistics. We have in this volume the full spectrum of humanities and social sciences, with topics ranging from in-depth studies of some telling details of urban life, to general theoretical approaches to urbanism and urban planning.” – Prof. Karol Edward Soltan, University of Maryland, College Park

"This is a book with a lot to deliver for the attentive reader and with a lot to offer depending on the subject you currently work in. ... It is necessary to stress that the main strength of the book is its diversity and the multifaceted look it offers. And in fact, this is what happens with the urban space as well: it is immensely rich and it unfolds when observed consciously and carefully." -- Prof. Oscar Lopez Catalan, Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona

Table of Contents

Foreword: Karol Edward Soltan



Part I: Urban Planning Theory and Practice

Chapter 1: Complexity Theory and Urban Planning

Michael McAdams

Chapter 2: Plans and Why They Fail

Jesus Treviño Cantú

Chapter 3: A Catalyst For Change: The Role of City Organizations in the Process of Urban Reform

Ivani Vassoler-Froelich

Chapter 4: Application of the Urban Realms Model to Istanbul

Mehmet Karakuyu

Part II: Urban Spaces: Physical and Imaginary Borders

Chapter 5: “Walls” As Political Metaphors

Vassil Anastassov

Chapter 6: Soft Social Infrastructure—An Instrument of Survival of Poor Populations in Urban Areas: A Case Study of the Roma in Bulgaria

Alexi Danchev

Chapter 7: Culture in the Digital Metropolis: Theoretical and Methodological Crossroads

Sheenagh Pietrobruno

Part III: Urban Development in the Global Periphery

Chapter 8: Political and Environmental Challenges of Border Communities: The Case of Colonias in South Texas

Nirmal Goswani and Joseph Jozwiak

Chapter 9: The Urban Structure of El Centro in Border Cities: A Case Study of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Michael McAdams

Chapter 10: A Mexican Border City in the Global Periphery: Piedras Negras and the Steel Manufacturing, 1935-1990

Michael S. Yoder

Part IV: Viewing the City Beyond the Built Infrastructure

Chapter 11: Barcelona 2004: A “Redeemed Flâneur’s” Report

Jesus Treviño Cantú

Chapter 12: Worldliness in Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories of a City

Verena Laschinger

Chapter 13: Americans in Paris, Paris in Americans: Symbolic Geography in the Novels of Henry James

Joshua Parker




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