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ASEE PRISM
  American Society for Engineering Education
American Society for Engineering EducationNOVEMBER 2007Volume 17 | Number 3 PRISM HOMETABLE OF CONTENTSBACK ISSUES
FEATURES
COVER STORY:  ‘PATCH AND PRAY’ - BY THOMAS K. GROSE
FEATURE: GM SHIFTS GEARS - BY MARY LORD
FEATURE: EYE ON THE WORLD - BY PIERRE HOME-DOUGLAS

DEPARTMENTS
COMMENTS
BRIEFINGS
DATABYTES
REFRACTIONS: Thinking Simple - HENRY PETROSKI
CLASSIFIEDS
LAST WORD: Don’t Overlook Industry - By DONALD A. KEATING & EUGENE M. DELOATCH

TEACHING TOOLBOX
TEACHING TOOLBOX: Knowledge Builders - WITH ‘ELECTRIC PICKLES,’ SPACE-SHUTTLE TILES AND OTHER ATTENTION-GRABBING STRATAGEMS, COLLEGE AND GRADUATE STUDENTS SEEK TO INSPIRE A YOUNG GENERATION OF POTENTIAL ENGINEERS. BY BARBARA MATHIAS-RIEGEL
JEE SELECTS: The Habit of Learning - SCOTT JIUSTO AND DAVID DIBASIO
ON THE SHELF: Our Town, Our World - ROBIN TATU


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TEACHING TOOLBOX: ON THE SHELF: Our Town, Our World - Reviewed by Robin TatuTEACHING TOOLBOX: ON THE SHELF: Our Town, Our World - ROBIN TATU - Reviewed by Robin Tatu  

Eight studies explore the tensions created by globalization in cities far removed from international commercial centers.


Relocating Global Cities From the Center to the Margins
by M. Mark Amen, Kevin Archer, and M. Martin Bosman, eds., Rowman & Littlefield 2006,
225 pages.


London, New York, Singapore—these are names that would come to mind in compiling a list of global cities. The designation is typically reserved for strategic locations of international finance, trade, and production services. Yet in Relocating Global Cities From the Center to the Margins, the concept of the global city is reframed with the argument that today, all urban centers are being affected by globalization and, therefore, must all be considered global cities. In addition, the editors of this collected work—an outgrowth of a 2002 Globalization Research Center project at the University of South Florida—maintain that a better understanding of globalization can be achieved by examining locales in varying stages of development—not just the international superstars. Studying cities on the periphery of the standard globalization literature helps “tease out more completely how specific conjunctures of economic, political, and cultural power relationships actually manifest themselves quite differently in the uneven spatial scapes” across the globe.

And indeed, this volume, which comprises eight individual case studies bookended by an introductory and concluding essay, offers a helpful means for thinking about global change within the local context. The editors Amen, Archer and Bosman begin by reviewing two prevailing methods for analyzing global cities. The first, a market-driven approach, emphasizes economic and technological dynamics, while the second, an “agency-driven approach,” focuses on local actors and context. Neither renders a satisfactory analysis by itself, the editors contend, but rather, should be employed jointly. In particular, they stress the need for empirical studies that can help develop more nuanced globalization theories.

The chapters that follow seek to do just that. The participants of the GRC project have pursued detailed analysis of very different cities—Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Manila, Tampa, Brussels and Caracas. In each case, they examine the specific circumstances that encourage or impede global development, providing layered depictions of complex local dynamics. For example, in 2000, local Australian officials sought to create “Global Sydney,” in part by undertaking an ambitious redistricting of the city’s spaces and boundaries. The effort met with resistance from neighborhood groups and set off a firestorm of political infighting. Ultimately, Sydney’s residents persuaded officials to protect their neighborhoods against redevelopment and gentrification.

Another chapter examines Johannesburg’s efforts to re-engage with the global economy after 30 years of Apartheid, shifting from gold mining and manufacturing to information and communication technology. The author concludes that the city can only move forward if it addresses its staggering crime rate, infrastructure limitations, and continuing class and racial inequities. In Brussels, global potential is hampered by officials and business leaders so embroiled in local concerns that authors Erik Swyngedouw and Johan Moyersoen conclude that the city “remains embedded in a provincial and parochial institutional straitjacket.”

In the final chapter, the editors synthesize the case studies by exploring five overarching patterns of development. They note, for example, the frequent disconnect between local and national or transnational objectives, and ask whether most local official and business leaders appreciate the full impact of global change within their cities.

They suggest a need for greater critical evaluation by city leaders in order to develop alternative, and often protective, visions for development. Studies of globalization likewise need to recognize that the process is not “inexorably homogenizing” but profoundly contingent, “the result of ongoing social conflict and negotiation.” Great numbers of empirically-based city studies can do much to assist in developing more strategies, they believe. While Relocating Global Cities is aimed primarily at geographers and urban studies scholars, and makes for somewhat dry reading, it offers useful insights into the complicated negotiations taking place during this period of intensifying change.

Robin Tatu is a senior editor of Prism.

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