1st Edition

Pivot Cities in the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

By Ahmet Davutoğlu Copyright 2022
    206 Pages 16 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    206 Pages 16 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Based on the author’s long experience in academic life and the public realm, especially in foreign policy, this book argues that a single categoric classification of cities is inadequate, and that cities have had different and varied impacts and positions throughout the history of civilization.

    The author examines how the formation, transformation, destruction or reestablishment of many civilizational cities reveals a clearer picture of the cornerstones of the course of human history. These cities, which play a decisive and pivotal role in the direction of the flow of history as well as providing us with a compass to guide our efforts to understand and interpret this flow, are conceptualized by the author as civilizations’ "pivot cities". This innovative book explores the role of great cities in political historical change, presenting an alternative view of these pivot cities from a culturalist perspective. Within this framework, the role played by pivot cities in the history of civilization may be considered under seven distinct headings: pioneering cities which founded civilizations; cities which were founded by civilizations; cities which were transplanted during the formation of civilizations; "ghost cities" which lost their importance through shifts in political power and civilizational transformation; "lost cities" which were destroyed by civilizations; cities on lines of geocultural/geoeconomic interaction; and cities which combine, transform or are transformed by different civilizations. The author’s concept of pivot cities explores the interplay between vital cities and civilizations, which bears on the future of globalization at a time of instability, as projected continuing de-Westernization becomes a theme in studies of global history.

    This book provides highly productive discussions relevant to the literature on city-civilization relationships and the historicity of pivot cities. Its clear language, rich content, deep and original perspective, interdisciplinary approach and rich bibliography will ensure that it appeals to students and scholars in a variety of disciplines, including cultural studies, political science, comparative urban studies, anthropology, history and civilizational studies.


    Part I. Intellectual Experiences and Methodological Framework

    1. Introduction: Intellectual Background

    I. My First Encounters with Cities: Traces of Place

    II. From Empirical Consciousness to Theory: Civilizational Self-Perception and Cities

    2. Critical Analysis of City Historiography: A Methodological Framework

    I. Methodological Criticism

    II. An Exemplary Analysis of Methodological Dilemma: Ottoman Cities in City Historiography

    III. The City as the Subject of the History of Civilizations: Classification of Pivot Cities

    Part II. The Role of Pivot Cities in the History of Civilizations

    3. Civilization-Founding Pivot Cities: Pioneering Cities

    I. Pataliputra: A Model of Spatial and Social Order

    II. Athens: Cultural Center of Civilizational Continuity

    III. From Rome to Pax Romana: From a City to an Imperial Political Order

    IV. Medina: A Prototype for Cities of Islamic Civilization

    4. Pivot Cities Founded by a Civilization: The Rise of Cities as Political Centers after the Formation of a Civilizational Paradigm

    I. The Islamic City: The Building of "New Medinas" in Different Cultural Basins

    II. The Power Centers of Western Civilization: Modernity and Ascendant Cities

    5. Pivot Cities Transplanted During the Formation of Civilizations: Alexandrian, Ottoman and Modern Networks of Cities

    I. The Alexandrian Cities and Civilizational Interaction

    II. The Ottoman-Seljuk City Tradition on the Khorasan-Anatolia-Rumelia Line

    III. Modern Economo-Politics Transfer Cities

    6. "Ghost Cities": The Decline of Pivot Cities Through Power Shifts and Civilizational Transformation

    I. The Era of Ascendancy: Binding Different Cultural Geographies

    II. The Era of Decline: End of the Multicultural Social Environment

    III. Ultimate Destiny: From Pivotal Role to a "Ghost City"

    7. "Lost Cities": Pivot Cities Liquidated with a Civilization

    I. Invasion

    II. End of Political Dominance

    III. Historical Non-existence

    8. Pivot Cities on Lines of Geoeconomic/Geocultural Interaction: Centers of Civilizational Encounters

    I. The Mesopotamia-Anatolia-Levant Line

    II. The Central Asia-Iran-India Line

    III. The Central Asia-Steppes Line

    IV. The Andalusia-North Africa-Sahara Line

    Part III. Transforming/Transformed Pivot Cities Where Civilizations Meet

    9. Jerusalem: The Soul of Civilizations’ History and Spiritual Transformation

    I. Formation and Legacy of Jerusalem: Inter-civilizational Background

    II. Efforts to Destroy Jerusalem and the Defiant City Spirit: Babylonians and Romans

    III. The Recovery of City Spirit and Continuity: Omar, the Ayyubids and the Ottomans

    IV. Attempts to Establish a One-Dimensional City: Crusaders and Israel

    10. Cairo and Civilizational Interaction: The Transformative Power of Place

    I. Civilizational Interaction of Internal and External Elements

    II. Civilizational Encounters of Intellectual/Spiritual Legacy of Humankind

    III. Civilizational Pluralism: Cultural Fabric and Architectural Heritage

    11. Istanbul: A Civilization-Blending Subject City

    I. Istanbul as an Ancient Synthesis Between Two Diverse Constituent/Pioneer City Prototypes: Rome and Medina

    II. Conquest and Reconquista: The Two Faces of Military Expansion in Europe

    III. Istanbul as the Pivot City of Civilizational Transformation

    IV. City Culture and Architectural Change


    Ahmet Davutoğlu served as the Prime Minister of the 62nd, 63rd, and 64th governments of the Republic of Turkey. Prior to this, he was Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is the first leader of the newly formed Future Party. In his academic career, he has held the position of professor at Marmara and Beykent Universities, Turkey, and the International Islamic University of Malaysia. He is the author of many books including Alternative Paradigms (1994), Civilizational Transformation and the Muslim World (1994), Stratejik Derinlik [Strategic Depths] (2015) and Systemic Earthquake and the Struggle for World Order (2020). He has received several awards, including the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2010. He was named as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time magazine in 2012.

    "A fascinating and conceptually illuminating overview of how crucial cities reflect flourishing civilizations. The author has an astonishing grasp of significant world cities, exhibiting a love of hallowed urban spaces gracefully fused with a deep knowledge of the historic impacts of what he intriguingly calls 'pivot cities.'"

    Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, USA

    "Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Pivot Cities in the Rise and Fall of Civilizations is a significant contribution to efforts to build genuinely inclusive and pluralist visions of humanity considering the challenges of globalization that mark our time. It focuses on urban centers where distinctive cultural/civilizational traditions formed, interacted, adjusted, and flourished while maintaining their essential qualities – or melted away.

    Davutoğlu examines the experience of a broad range of cities comparatively across time and space. This approach provides historical depth and geographical breadth to his analyses of cultural and structural change and continuity. A new perspective calls for methodical adjustments. Davutoğlu challenges exclusive models of linear urban development toward a predestined end as defined by western European experience. He also advocates a holistic approach that highlights structural change and material achievements along with the ontological and axiological qualities of respective urban cultural zones.

    Davutoğlu pays special attention to spatial spread and architectural landmarks of a city. They serve as mirrors of the normative and aesthetic values that distinguish an urban cultural or civilizational tradition and its interaction with others. Davutoğlu’s normally scholarly and impressively erudite social scientific language acquires a lyrical quality in his discussion of architecture, enabling the reader to feel the beauty and meaning of the settings he describes. This lyricism adds to the quality of Pivot Cities in the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, enhancing its appeal for dialogue, reflection, and broad vision toward a more meaningful and peaceful world."

    Engin Deniz Akarli, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Brown University, USA