The world’s changing urban spaces explored in new book
What is Urban History? by Dr Shane Ewen, Senior Lecturer in History, will be launched at an event at Broadcasting Place, Woodhouse Lane, on Wednesday 11 November at 5pm.
Shane explained: “Only a century ago, two out of every 10 people in the world were living in urban areas. In 2015, more than half the world’s population is living in urban areas. Much of this recent growth, since the 1950s, has occurred in developing countries. In 2013, of every 10 urban residents in the world more than seven could be found in developing countries, and the rate of urbanisation shows no signs of abatement in Africa, Asia, the Middle East or Latin America. My new book helps us to appreciate the historical factors that have caused this momentous change.”
What is Urban History? addresses the history of urban settlements (including towns, cities, mega-cities, mega-regions, and urban corridors) and urbanisation.
Shane continued: “Since the 1960s, urban history has drawn upon a range of subject areas including geography, sociology, political science and anthropology. Meanwhile, with the growth of urban history in Asia, Africa and Latin America, we have seen the field develop an interest in global, transnational and environmental concerns.”
Shane’s book maps out these broad geographic and thematic shifts, and is aimed at readers who are new to the field, or who want to brush up on key themes and features if they are teaching urban history at university; at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Shane combines a discussion of classic texts with the latest literature to illustrate current debates and controversies across the urban world, examining the spatial and experiential nature of modern urban life through city case studies: London, Paris, New York, Chicago, Shanghai, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro and many more. The book studies the relationship between urban spatial forms (the suburb, the slum, downtown, and the street) with the fostering of social identities (notably class, gender, race and ethnicity, and sexuality).
Shane added: “This book helps us to better understand the world by recognising that ‘the urban’ is the universal human condition in the world today. Readers will better understand the evolution of urban history as a thriving global sub-field of historical research.
“Social and environmental justice are critical challenges facing cities today, and there is a growing divide between rich and poor across the urban world, but also huge inequalities for other social groups – women, the disabled, the elderly, the young and so on. States, businesses and the third sector respond to these challenges in different ways and this book traces many of these through a historical lens.”
Shane will be giving a talk based on his book as part of the Leeds Cultural Conversations series at Leeds Town Hall on Wednesday 9 December from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
What is Urban History? has been published by Polity Books and is available for £14.99.