21st Century urbanization will be one of the most challenging and tragic institutional transformations of modernity, and perhaps the most fascinating in which to participate and watch, and therefore IICAT places the dynamic emergence of global cities at the center of its analysis.
As financial, cultural, and psychical centers of gravity in the expanding world economic (culture) system, our collective self-understanding of the climate challenge will begin and end with the forces constitutive of and emanating from these cities.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle on the west US coast—Chicago and New York. London and Paris and Madrid and Berlin and Rome. Athens! That is the geopolitical historical vector that interests us most, because it tracks the historical path of the western tradition from it roots in ancient Greece to our location in Santa Barbara—from which to move further west and follow the arc leads not further on but back to the old country. What follows is therefore to some extent a self-analysis.
From LA in the late 20th Century as semiotic ground zero ignited in Hollywood and digitized globally from SF’s silicon valley, we enter the new horizon of global horizontal proliferation of connectivity and a new scale of semiological universalism made tactile, for example, in the electric buzz of universal disco heard in the night clubs of global cities, on every continent where the international bourgeoisie remains an authentic expression of the still revolutionary rising class of owners.
But other people in other places might do well to construct their own genealogies, and we look forward to discovering the work of other people in other traditions that likewise appreciate their location in the international climate wars and seek to analyze its function as well as themselves and their local predicaments.
What we can and hope to do here is see the world through our eyes—and get connected with other people who can help us see the world through theirs.
In time this page will reflect our extension of this line of investigation to its fullest philosophical conclusion.
For now we just begin to assemble the following annotated links with which we think it best to engage this scene of urbanization.
See this 2015 report on urbanization in India – data rich look at the future of urbanization.
The following sources for will be invaluable for further investigation:
The Urbanization and Global Environmental Change (UGEC) project of the United Nations University (UNU), which “seeks to provide a better understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between global environmental change and urbanization at the local, regional, and global scales.”
Climate Action Planning for Global Cities. Read the May 2012 MIT report Progress and Challenges in URBAN CLIMATE ADAPTION PLANNING: Results of a Global Survey. Produced by JoAnn Carmin, MIT Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning.
Preparing Cities for Climate Change. This is the project website for MIT Professor JoAnn Carmin’s research into “urban climate adaptation planning and implementation in cities in developed and developing countries.”
Global Flows & Global Cities. This is an archive in which we collect voices articulating the language of Global Flows and Global Cities—a discourse we are studying and trying to fathom by asking the question: what are the dominant tendencies here, and what do they mean for the theory and practice of 21st century urbanization?