Contesting Neoliberalism : Urban Frontiers book cover
1st Edition

Contesting Neoliberalism
Urban Frontiers

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ISBN 9781593853204
Published November 30, 2006 by Guilford Press
340 Pages

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Book Description

Neoliberalism's market revolution--realized through practices like privatization, deregulation, fiscal devolution, and workfare programs--has had a transformative effect on contemporary cities. The consequences of market-oriented politics for urban life have been widely studied, but less attention has been given to how grassroots groups, nongovernmental organizations, and progressive city administrations are fighting back. In case studies written from a variety of theoretical and political perspectives, this book examines how struggles around such issues as affordable housing, public services and space, neighborhood sustainability, living wages, workers' rights, fair trade, and democratic governance are reshaping urban political geographies in North America and around the world.

Table of Contents

1. Contesting Urban Futures: Decentering Neoliberalism, Helga Leitner, Eric S. Sheppard, Kristin Sziarto, and Ananthakrishna Maringanti
2. Conceptualizing Neoliberalism, Thinking Thatcherism, Jamie Peck and Adam Tickell
3. Mexico's Neoliberal Transition: Authoritarian Shadows in an Era of Neoliberalism, Patricia M. Martin
4. The Places, People, and Politics of Partnership: After Neoliberalism in Aotearoa, New Zealand, Wendy Larner and Maria Butler
5. Contesting the Neoliberalization of Urban Governance, Margit Mayer
6. Contesting the Neoliberal City?: Theories of Neoliberalism and Urban Strategies of Contention, William Sites
7. Political Polemics and Local Practices of Community Organizing and Neoliberal Politics in South Africa, Sophie Oldfield and Kristian Stokke
8. Decommodifying Electricity in Postapartheid Johannesburg, Patrick Bond and Peter McInnes
9. Spaces of Resistance in Seattle and Cancun, Joel Wainwright
10. Articulating Neoliberalism: Diverse Economies and Everyday Life in Postsocialist Cities, Adrian Smith
11. Modes of Governance, Modes of Resistance: Contesting Neoliberalism in Calgary, Byron Miller
12. Closed Borders, Open Markets: Immigrant Day Laborers' Struggle for Economic Rights, Nik Theodore
13. Space Patrols-the New Peace-Keeping Functions of Nonprofits: Contesting Neoliberalism or the Urban Poor?, Volker Eick
14. From Possible Urban Worlds to the Contested Metropolis: Urban Research and Activism in the Age of Neoliberalism, Ute Lehrer and Roger Keil
15. Squaring up to Neoliberalism, Helga Leitner, Jamie Peck, and Eric S. Sheppard

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Helga Leitner is Professor of Geography and a faculty member in the Institute for Global Studies and the Interdisciplinary Center for Global Change at the University of Minnesota. She has published two books and has written numerous articles and book chapters on the political economy of urban development, urban entrepreneurialism, the politics of immigration and citizenship, and environmental justice. Her current research interests include immigration and race in the contemporary United States, processes of neoliberalization, and the rise of social justice movements.

Jamie Peck is Professor of Geography and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The author of Work-Place: The Social Regulation of Labor Markets and Workfare States, and coeditor of Remaking the Global Economy and Reading Economic Geography, he is currently researching the political economy of neoliberalization and the restructuring of low-wage labor markets.

Eric Sheppard is Professor of Geography and member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Global Change at the University of Minnesota. He is coauthor of The Capitalist Space Economy and A World of Difference: Society, Nature, Development, and coeditor of A Companion to Economic Geography and Scale and Geographic Inquiry. His current research examines contestations of neoliberalism and the geographical dynamics of trade and neoliberal globalization.


A major contribution to the critical study of early 21st-century capitalism. Focusing on the role of cities as strategic arenas for neoliberal political projects, the contributors consistently and systematically underscore the profoundly contested character of contemporary urban restructuring. Drawing on a rich trove of case studies from cities around the world, the book explores the variegated strategies through which local actors and organizations have resisted market-based forms of urban governance and their deeply regressive, polarizing consequences for everyday life. This wide-ranging, accessible book contains a unique combination of cutting-edge theorizing, fine-grained empirical analyses, and incisive political critique. It will be essential reading for anyone who seeks to decipher or influence contemporary urban struggles.--Neil Brenner, New York University

Neoliberalism too often feels like a fait accompli, but this superlative volume shows that it is always a work in progress, shaped by the contestations it calls up against itself. From South Africa to Slovakia, from Calgary to Cancun, the studies in this book provide crucial insight into the roots and trajectory of the neoliberal project as it shapes--and is shaped by--the 'urban frontier.' Here, the authors show, the policies that put neoliberalism on the map run smack up against a full range of progressive struggles to transcend and transform a world in which it often seems like there are no alternatives. Contesting Neoliberalism will contest much of what you think you know about contemporary urban policy and its geography.--Don Mitchell, Syracuse University

This engaged and decentered account of neoliberalism opens up possibilities for radical change as well as new theoretical insights. Eschewing the usual starting points, Leitner et al. highlight the ongoing constitution of neoliberalism, pointing in particular to its multiple different incarnations on the ground as well as its formation and reformation through urban struggle. Drawing together numerous innovative studies from urban scholarship worldwide, this book demonstrates the importance of thinking empirically and spatially in order to come to grips with this powerful and ever-evolving doctrine.--Katharyne Mitchell, University of Washington

If you believe the city is a key arena for the making, contestation, and unmaking of neoliberal politics, and if you want to know about how cities are shaped and reshaped by neoliberalism and its discontents, seek no longer. This volume brings together leading scholar-activists to uncompromisingly dissect the realities of neoliberal urbanization and what can be done about it. This is an indispensable contribution for the critical scholar, urban activist, or anyone who is looking for ways to contest neoliberalism’s pensée unique and to fight against its injustices and inequalities.--Erik Swyngedouw, Department of Geography, Oxford University
This is a valuable addition to growing literature on the theme across disciplines. The introductory and concluding chapters make important readings on dialects between neoliberalism and resistance. Together the chapters bring to the fore the intercepting spatialities in (re)architecturing the contours of neoliberalism and resistances and provide some fresh insights particularly with a geographical 'gaze' to familiar and not-so-familiar terrains.
--City, 10/26/2006ƒƒ
If you are becoming jaded by books and articles on neoliberalism, this book is nonetheless definitely worth a close look. At the least, Contesting Neoliberalism could be your last best read on the subject. It is one of those rare edited collections that actually focuses collectively on the topic—not just on neoliberalism and the city, but on contesting neoliberalism—suggesting considerable work by the editors....This book...should become a significant milepost as resistance to neoliberal capitalism builds.
--Economic Geography, 10/26/2006ƒƒ
There is much that is important in this book. The introductory and concluding chapters take the lead, staking out an innovative and bold gaze onto the neoliberalism—resistance dialectic....Contesting Neoliberalism is an important step forward as geographers and other social scientists struggle to understand the intricacies of a powerful yet elusive neoliberalism....This book, exceedingly well written and relevant especially for graduate courses, advanced seminars, and research undertakings in the social sciences, provides a wealth of key pointers to deepen the inquiry into neoliberalism. I highly recommend this book, and will be returning to it again and again to strengthen my own base of understanding.
--Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 10/26/2006ƒƒ
The quality of the chapters is high. In addition to the editors, the contributing authors include such well known scholars of social movements and urban politics as Margit Mayer, Roger Keil, Patrick Bond, and William Sites. All of the authors, though, deliver thoughtful and substantive chapters. Theory is important and is used to frame the empirical offerings....This is an edited collection that delivers value. Theoretically sophisticated, the cases are also interesting and informative. And because the complexities of neoliberalism and its contestations defeat any attempt to formalize our knowledge, the editors aim to inform and guide us so that we know how to think about these issues, not what to think. This the book does admirably.
--Journal of Planning Education and Research, 10/26/2006