From Publishers Weekly
In the evil paradises of this uneven anthology edited by scholars Davis and Monk, the free market coddles the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. With contributions from academics, architects and journalists, the essays explore how cities like Beijing and Johannesburg disregard good governance for prestige projects adored by the nomadic business elite. Though the message is consistent, the tone wanders from a fun and flimsy piece on Orange County by journalist Rebecca Schoenkopf to history professor Jon Wiener's overly somber look at Ted Turner's two million–acre landholding. In one essay, Davis launches a salvo at Dubai, distilling the glittering emirate into Milton Friedman's Beach Club, powered by the labor of imported near-slaves. California-style gated housing developments are a recurring theme, popping up in Iran and Hong Kong. More original is science fiction novelist China Miéville's brilliant essay Floating Utopias about a seafaring metropolis and tax haven to dwarf the largest ocean liner. The catch? This libertarian dream project will probably never be built because that philosophy, Miéville explains, is for people too small, incompetent or insufficiently connected to avoid taxes or, for that matter, to build a boat equipped with an airport. Even when it's not so pithy, this leftist world tour reminds us of development's human cost. (July)
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As neoliberal economic policies are increasingly applied to city planning, urban spaces worldwide increasingly reflect the deliberate effort to amass capital and stimulate consumer spending. The most dramatic neoliberal development schemesprivate archipelagoes in Dubai, gated communities in Hong Kong, the Mall of America in Minnesotacan even be said to resemble capitalist utopias, free of the chaotic diversity of city life and immune from concern for the welfare of the broader public. As emphasized by each of the 19 pieces in this collection, however, every "dreamworld of neoliberalism" constitutes a spatial manifestation of inequality, serving the interests of an increasingly international bourgeois class at the expense of the global poor. Although voicing generally similar variations on a theme of socioeconomic inequality, these articles cover a diverse group of localities (including Beijing and Orange County, California) from a variety of generally scholarly perspectives. Its best moments may be where it is most interdisciplinary, such as in Don Mitchell's analysis of neoliberalism at the Supreme Court in Virginia v. Hicks. Driscoll, Brendan
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