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HomeNoteworthy in Global Urban History

This is the eleventh in an ongoing series of profiles of GUHP members' work, highlighting the sheer breadth of scholarship in the field of global urban history.

The series also salutes the work of networks and associations whose missions
overlap that of GUHP in significant ways.

Please consider adding these titles to you own personal libraries and forwarding this notice to your university acquisitions librarian.

On the first anniversary of its foundation, the Global Urban History Project is asking prospective members (that is, anyone reading this notice who has not yet signed up) to please take a few minutes to add profiles of their work to the website. We are eager to document as much work in this exciting field as we can. Adding a profile is free of charge. To join, visit our Homepage.



Brand NewBuilding for Oil: Daqing and the Formation of the Chinese Socialist State
by Li Hou, Urban Planning,
Tongji University, China
(Harvard University Press, 2018)


Building for Oilis a historical account of the development of the oil town of Daqing in northeastern China during the formative years of the People’s Republic, describing Daqing’s rise and fall as a national model city. Daqing oil field was the most profitable state-owned enterprise and the single largest source of state revenue for almost three decades, from the 1950s through the early 1980s. The book traces the roots and maturation of the Chinese socialist state and its early industrialization and modernization policies during a time of unprecedented economic growth.[more]

GUHP profile
Author website



From Railway Juncture to Portal of Globalization: Making Globalization Work in African and South Asian Railway Towns
Edited by Geert Castryck, History,
Leipzig University, Germany
(Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2016 -Comparativ25, 4)

The papers collected in this issue illustrate how people have shaped global connectedness in five African and South Asian railway towns. It is not the railway and the material connections enabled by it that are at the heart of these histories, but rather how people made productive use of local conditions and the availability of the railway. At first sight, a northern English labour force in the Jamalpur locomotive workshop (India), the entrepreneurship of Otto Siedle in Durban (South Africa), cosmopolitan residential patterns in Elisabethville (present-day Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo), the Belgian concession port in British-ruled Kigoma (Tanzania), and the self-organization of railway porters in Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia) are not the striking success stories of globalization. However, they tell us much about how globalization is produced and how processes of globalization are interlocked. Creative responses, building on locality, longevity, and long-distance connectivity, turned these places into centres of activity where at a particular time specific ways of globalization were produced. In order to understand globalization processes, we need to grasp these historically specific and distinctly local features that produce globalization.[more]

GUHP profileEditor website



Brand New"What Was So Socialist about the Socialist City? Second World Urbanity in Europe" inJournal of Urban History
by Kimberly Zarecor, Architecture,
Iowa State University, USA
Vol 44, no.1, January 2018, 95-117

Socialist cities have most often been studied as manifestations of the socialist system itself, linked to the political fate of the Communist Parties in power during their design, construction, and expansion. This article revisits the socialist city and argues for the validity of the concept historically and in the present. Looking qualitatively at this distinct paradigm in Europe, two analytical frameworks are offered, infrastructural thinking and the socialist scaffold. The analysis shows that the universal aspiration for socialist cities was their continuous operation as synchronized instruments of economic production and social transformation in physical space. Distinct from capitalist cities, they had an ideological role in an economic model that instrumentalized cities as nodes in an integrated system, described using Stephen Kotkin’s term, “single entity.” The agency of the socialist scaffold has continued into the era of neoliberalism, shown here to have previously unexplored roots in socialism.[more]


GUHP profileAuthor website



Brand New"Down with the Walls! The Politics of Place in Spanish and German Urban Extension Planning, 1848–1914"
inJournal of Modern History
by Anna Ross, History,
Warwick University, UK
Vol 90, no.2, June 2018, 292-322


By 1914, photographers were producing stunning images of the built environment across Europe, including in Spain and Germany. In Spain, Jaime Murillo Rubiera and Mario Fernández Albarés started to photograph aspects of Madrid’s unfolding urban extension, which had begun in 1860 and progressed rapidly after 1875. Likewise, in Barcelona Joan Martí and Antoni Esplugas captured the dramatic improvements to the cityscape that began with defortification in 1854
and the adoption of an extension plan in 1860.[more]

GUHP profileAuthor website



Brand New"Spices, Spies, and Speculation: Trust and Control in the Early Batavia-Amsterdam system"
by Robert Cowherd,
Architecture, Design & Construction Management
Wentworth Institute of Technology, USA
inEd. Patrick HaugheyA History of Architecture and Trade,(Routledge, 2018)

A close examination of the rapid 17th century development of Amsterdam and Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia) compels us to consider them as two halves of a single infrastructure of global exchange separated by a 21,000-kilometer sea route. Both are fortified port
towns featuring fractal geometries of canals, quays, streets, and shop houses. Beyond an accounting for specific cultural influences, mainly Chinese, the differences between north and south sides of this company town exemplify distinct operations of urban
form and architecture. The spatial-institutional arrangements of Amsterdam’s Dam Square speak to the importance of trust as a precondition to the world’s first multinational corporation, while Batavia’s urban form was a key factor in its apartheid system of
surveillance and control.[more]

GUHP profileAuthor website

To read back-issues of “Noteworthy in Global Urban History,” please click here.