Asian Cities: Globalization, Urbanization and Nation-building

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by Malcolm McKinnon

This book questions the centrality of globalization in explaining change in Asian cities and examines developing Asian cities in their own terms rather than as variants of Western urbanization. It explores middle cities 'off the radar' as well as well-known metropolises. It uses both quantitative and ethnographic research. "Asian Cities" challenges Western paradigms of urban growth with a fresh and stimulating look at cities in developing Asia. It questions the status accorded to globalization in explaining contemporary Asian cities, arguing instead that they are being transformed by three major forces - urbanization and nation-building as well as globalization. The latter two are not dependent variables of globalization, although all, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, are shaped by capitalism.

The book reaches beyond the usual focus on metropolitan centres to examine urban life in a sample of middle-sized cities representative of hundreds of such urban centres throughout the Asian continent. An introductory chapter outlines the arguments and introduces the sample cities. Chapters two and three explore two principal facets of urbanization: the material transformation that comes in its train and the impact that it has on the lives of the newly-urbanized. Chapters four to seven explore the way that the national framework shapes cities - including business enterprises, migration, travel and commercial popular culture. In a final chapter the book surveys likely trends in Asian cities over the next quarter century and considers the implications of the study for our understanding of globalization generally. This is a nuanced study grounded in quantitatively-based findings but enriched by qualitative research that both provides additional evidence and brings the findings alive.

"Asian Cities is well-organised and well-argued … with an agreeable variation between theory and empirical data. There are lots of references to books, journal articles, newspapers and websites. But there has also been room given to describe personal experiences in the selected cities – for example, on the level of service at Chinese hotels and about chock-full Indonesian trains – and the book also contains a lot of quotes from people McKinnon has interviewed during his travels." - Jørgen Mikkelsen, Byerne, Blog om Urban Historie og Kultur

Malcolm McKinnon is a lecturer in the human geography programme at Macquarie University, Sydney, where she teaches Asia-Pacific development and geographic theory.

Publication year: 2011
272 pp / 229mm x 152mm
38 figures
ISBN: 978-87-7694-079-9, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-078-2, Hardback

NIAS Press