Space wars and the new urban imperialism

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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The dissertation analyzes recent urban transformations through the lens of space wars. The main focus is on investment flows in the commercial property market, changes in urban governance and changes in social geography, and how these three aspects are related. Drawing on cross border investment data, archive studies, interviews with key actors and street walking experiences in Copenhagen, Lisbon and New York, the book offers insight into the ?glocal? logic of urban imperialism and its tendency towards uneven development ? fundamental forces that shape our cities in the 21st century.

In Chapter One, I introduce the concepts of space wars and the new urban imperialism and present the research questions and methodological considerations. Chapter Two analyzes processes of globalization in property markets through an empirical investigation into the commercial property market of Copenhagen. Globalization of property markets is defined, a framework for analysis is presented and methodological problems are reported. The chapter aims to improve our understanding of globalization in the sphere of immobile property, and to show to what extent globalization (in this limited sense) has occurred in Copenhagen. In Chapter Three I analyze linkages between rescaling of commercial property markets and changes in urban governance in Lisbon. The chapter aims to further advance understanding of globalization in the sphere of immobile property, and its relation with shifts in urban governance. Cautious comparisons with Copenhagen are made. Chapter Four expands the analysis of Copenhagen as a globalizing city. Through the optic of the imagineering of Copenhagen as ?creative city? ? part of Copenhagen's competition with other cities ? relations between globalization, urban governance and social geography are analyzed. The chapter problematizes what on the surface seems to be an unequivocally positive quality (?creative?) and goal (?creativity?). Chapter Five employs the concept of the global-local nexus of space wars, forging links between highly localized processes of urban transformation, competition between cities and global movements of capital and people. It shows how mental and material boundaries as well as ethnicity and class are central elements in space wars. Through the example of Sydhavn, a rapidly changing part of Copenhagen, the chapter aims to illustrate how processes of material and social construction and transformation of urban space constitute urban space wars, engaging actors at all scales.

The Epilogue serves as a supplement to my short film ?Space wars: a street level odyssey through the centre of the American empire ? New York City?. The film offers a street level voyage through the urban topography of New York, centre of the American empire, showing how the rhythms of vagabond capitalism manifest themselves as space wars. At first glance, every day in the city seems an original performance, but underneath the surface, we find a myriad of rhythms that reveal traces of millennia of human cultures and histories. In urban centers throughout the globe we can observe contemporary modern society and the materialized topographies of different modes of time-space production. The film seeks to direct attention to, and stimulate discussion on issues of space wars at different scales and in different contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Human Geography
  • Clark, Eric, Supervisor
Award date2006 Sept 29
ISBN (Print)91-974998-8-9
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2006-09-29
Time: 10:15
Place: Department of Social and Economic Geography Sölvegatan 10, sal 111 SE-223 62 Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Swyngedouw, Erik
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Oxford University

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography

Free keywords

  • walking in the city
  • Social sciences
  • social change
  • new urban imperialism
  • urban governance
  • film
  • globalization
  • Space wars


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