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In recent decades, the field of urban studies has neglected the question of the hinterland: the city's complex, changing relations to the diverse noncity landscapes that support urban life. Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis of the Urban Theory Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Design argue that this ‘hinterland question’ remains essential, but must also be radically reimagined under contemporary conditions.
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis
Neil Brenner and
Nikos Katsikis,
Map visualisation of
the US Corn Belt,
Capital-intensive, highly
industrialised and densely
equipped landscapes of cash-crop
monocultures dominate the Corn
Belt, where more than 80 per cent
of all land (depicted in black) is
dedicated to the cultivation of
corn and soya beans. The zone is
con gured among 1-mile (1.6-km)
tiles within a Jeffersonian grid
pattern. This permits the maximally
ef cient operation of agro-
industrial machinery. Beneath this
terrestrial surface is an extensive
subterranean drainage system that
supports soil tilling. Data source:
USDA National Agricultural
Statistics Service Cropland Data
Layer (2018), published crop-
speci c data layer, available at
What role do spaces beyond the city play in urbanisation,
and how are they transformed through this process? City-
building is a process of sociospatial concentration, but its
preconditions and consequences are not con ned to the
city’s immediate environs. The term ‘hinterland’ is used
here to demarcate the variegated non-city spaces that
are swept into the maelstrom of urbanisation, whether
as supply zones, impact zones, sacri ce zones, logistics
corridors or otherwise. Such spaces include diverse types of
settlements (towns, villages, hamlets), land-use con gurations
(industrial, agrarian, extractive, energetic, logistical) and
ecologies (terrestrial, oceanic, subterranean, atmospheric).
We refer to explorations of such spaces, and their role in
urbanisation processes, as engagements with ‘the hinterland
question’. Across the urban social sciences and design
disciplines, the hinterland question is today considered
secondary or even irrelevant to the study of urbanisation;
the city, its dense socioeconomic networks and its powerful
agglomeration economies occupy centre stage. In the age
of planetary urbanisation, this position is untenable: city/
hinterland relations lie at the heart of the contemporary urban
problematique. And yet, these relations are today undergoing
mutations that necessitate not only a repositioning of the
hinterland question into the core of urban research and
practice, but its radical reconceptualisation.
Cities Without Hinterlands?
Prior to the 1970s, the  eld of urban studies devoted extensive
attention to the role of non-city landscapes in the urbanisation
process. From Johann Heinrich von Thünen’s early 19th-
century model of the relationship between an isolated city
and land-use differentiation in its agrarian hinterland, through
the early 20th-century writings of Patrick Geddes, Lewis
Mumford and Benton MacKaye on ecological regionalism,
up through post-Second World War explorations of central
place hierarchies and polarised regional development, city/
hinterland relations were widely regarded as constitutive
dimensions of the urban problematique.1
NASA ‘Nighttime lights of the world’
Few images have had a greater impact on contemporary
metanarratives of global urbanisation than the ‘nighttime
lights of the world’ series, initially synthesised during the
1990s in the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in
Boulder, Colorado, and subsequently improved through
NASA’s remote sensing networks. Data source: VIIRS DNB
Nighttime Lights Composites, NOAA National Center for
Environmental Information (NCEI).
In recent decades, the  eld of
urban studies has neglected
the question of the hinterland:
the city’s complex, changing
relations to the diverse non-
city landscapes that support
urban life. Neil Brenner
and Nikos Katsikis of the
Urban Theory Lab at the
Harvard Graduate School
of Design argue that this
‘hinterland question’ remains
essential, but must also be
radically reimagined under
contemporary conditions.
During the last half-century, the hinterland has largely
disappeared from urban theoretical discourse, or has been
relegated to mere background status. Under conditions of
accelerated geo-economic integration, splintering national
economies, the rollout of neoliberal austerity programmes,
cascading social, nancial and ecological crises, and
proliferating local growth initiatives, cities are increasingly
viewed as self-propelled economic engines. Within this post-
1980s approach to the urban question, the major emphasis is
on the internal preconditions, dynamics and consequences
of agglomeration. Urbanisation is understood as city growth
tout court – in effect, as cityisation – rather than as a process
that is actively supported by non-city spaces.2
The empty, desolate and isolated condition to which
the planet’s hinterlands are thereby consigned is starkly
illustrated in the image of the world’s night-time lights, in
which brightness is treated as a proxy for cityness. This
excision of the hinterland’s role in urbanisation is even more
starkly spatialised in the inuential concept of the ‘spiky
world’ developed by urbanist Richard Florida.3 Here, cities
are viewed as the nodal concentration points of global GDP.
In both visualisations, non-city spaces appear as barren,
depopulated, shapeless voids.
While the roots of this conceptualisation predate the 1970s,
it was consolidated into a broadly shared episteme of urban
studies following the erosion of Fordist-Keynesian, national-
developmentalist capitalism. Debates on industrial clusters in
the 1980s, global cities in the 1990s, postcolonial cities in the
2000s, and more recent assertions of a majority-urban world
or ‘urban age’ represent but variations on an underlying
vision of cities without hinterlands.
Counterpoint: Metabolic Urbanisation
The major contemporary counterpoints to this hegemonic,
city-centric approach to urban studies are associated with
various streams of urban ecological thought. Despite their
otherwise divergent agendas, these dissident approaches
conceive urbanisation as a sociometabolic process.
From this point of view, cities are supported by diverse
metabolic inputs (labour, materials, fuel, water and food)
and engender a range of metabolic byproducts (waste,
pollution, carbon), the vast majority of which are produced
within and, eventually, absorbed back into non-city zones.
Such approaches articulate a multiscalar understanding
of urbanisation that encompasses not only cities and
metropolitan regions, but extended landscapes of primary
commodity production, logistics and waste management.
Metabolic approaches to urbanisation thus seek to connect
the dynamics of agglomeration to a panoply of non-city
geographies – for instance, of land enclosure, population
displacement, deforestation, industrial agriculture, extraction,
energetics, logistics, waste processing and ecological load
displacement. The most signicant streams of this literature
include, among others, historical investigations of city/
hinterland relations, such as William Cronon’s study of
Chicago and the US Midwest in Nature’s Metropolis, or Gray
Brechin’s investigation of urbanising California in Imperial
San Francisco; approaches to materials ow analysis by
Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Helmut Haberl and their colleagues
in the Institute of Social Ecology at Klagenfurt University;
the investigation of ‘teleconnections’ through which land-
use transformations in cities impact land-use change
elsewhere developed by Karen Seto and her colleagues
at Yale University; and the analysis of urban ecological
footprints developed by William Rees and his colleagues at
the University of British Columbia.4
The contemporary vibrancy of metabolic approaches
to urbanisation underscores the continued centrality of
hinterland questions to early 21st-century urban studies.
These research traditions have contributed fundamental
insights that unsettle the myopic narrowing of urban
investigations to cities and intercity relations, while
illuminating the myriad sociomaterial processes through
which city development is supported by, and actively
coevolves with, non-city spaces. Thus understood, cities
are not self-propelled. The urban process is materialised
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis,
Visualisation representing cities
and metropolitan regions as the
‘spiky’ concentration points for
economic activities,
Based on a disaggregation of national GDP data for the year 2010, this visualisation
uses the approach popularised by Richard Florida in his article ‘The World is Spiky’ (The
Atlantic Monthly, October 2005, pp 48 51). Hinterlands – the world’s non-city spaces – are
correspondingly represented as empty, barren and, by implication, economically marginal.
Data source: UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme, 2012.
within city spaces while invariably exceeding them.5 City
and non-city landscapes are thus dialectically co-produced
under modern capitalism. The urban problematique can
only be deciphered adequately through an approach that
systematically connects them, at once in social, political,
material, infrastructural and ecological terms.
The Hinterland Enigma
Despite its role in offering powerful scholarly counterpoints
to the ideology of the self-propelled city, the bulk of
contemporary urban ecological scholarship has confronted
the hinterland question only indirectly. While studies of
urban metabolism have exhaustively quanti ed the material
and energetic  ows that mediate city/hinterland relations,
they have tended to bypass the question of how non-
city spaces are recon gured through these mediations.
Consequently, the hinterland itself has remained something
of a ‘black box’: metabolic  ows move in and out, but what
actually happens ‘inside’ the box, and how the latter has
itself evolved, are not interrogated. The hinterland’s internal
political-economic operations, land-use matrices, property
relations, spatiotemporal dynamics and socioecological
crisis-tendencies thus remain enigmatic.
Many contemporary urban researchers appear to
presuppose a conception of the hinterland that is derived
from the mercantile period of capitalist development in
which von Thünen constructed his famous account of the
‘isolated state’ (1826).6 Here, the hinterland is territorially
contiguous with and directly linked to the city, which in turn
serves as its market outlet and its manufacturing centre.
Although commodity production is generalised, there is no
structural impulsion to enhance labour productivity or to
maximise crop yields. In this model, the non-city zone is,
by de nition, nonindustrial; land-use sorting occurs due to
differential transport costs.
The point here is not to assert that contemporary urbanists
self-consciously embrace von Thünen’s conception of a
contiguous, nonindustrial hinterland, but to suggest that
some version of this 19th-century model continues to shape
our collective imagination of non-city landscapes, which are
thereby reduced to an amorphous ‘ghost acreage’ of ‘emptied
spaces, homogeneous blanks yet to be inscribed by human
history’.7 As a result, scholars have only rarely sought to
decipher the speci c patterns and pathways through which
hinterlands have been creatively destroyed since the 1850s,
even though such transformations have been as far-reaching
as those that are commonly ascribed to the crisis-riven
remaking of cities’ own built environments during
the same period. Investigating such mutations will require
new conceptualisations of city/hinterland matrices
in relation to emergent geographies and ecologies of
planetary urbanisation.8
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis,
Map visualisation juxtaposing
a demarcation of the world’s
metropolitan agglomerations onto a
rendering of the entire planet’s
total ‘used area’ at the beginning
of the 21st century
Metropolitan agglomerations are shown in red and the planet’s ‘used area’ is shown in black and grey. Agglomeration
zones constitute only a miniscule percentage of the planet’s operationalised landscapes, which are mostly devoted
to primary commodity production (agricultural cultivation, grazing, forestry), resource extraction, logistics and waste
disposal. Data sources: European Commission Joint Research Center, 2016, Global Human Settlement Layer; K-H Erb,
V Gaube, F Krausmann, C Plutzar, A Bondeau and H Haberl, ‘A Comprehensive Global 5 Min Resolution Land-Use
Dataset for the Year 2000 Consistent with National Census Data’, Journal of Land Use Science,2 (3), 2007, pp 191224;
and Vector Map Level 0 (VMap0) dataset released by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), 1997.
Johann Heinrich von Thünen,
Model of city/hinterland
relations under mercantile
Published in his Der isolierte Staat
in Beziehung auf Landwirtschaft und
Nationalökonomie (Friedrich Perthes,
Hamburg, 1826), von Thünen’s model
shaped many subsequent generations
of scholarship in urban economic
geography. However, except in a few
limit-cases of continued, dense metabolic
interchange between settlements and
their immediately contiguous supply
zones, its basic assumptions have been
superseded through the forward-motion
of capitalist industrialisation.
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis,
Map visualisation of the
geographical distribution of
production sites for the five
most globally traded agricultural
commodities, 2000
The overlaying gradients on the map correspond
to production areas for corn (orange), soya beans
(yellow), wheat (blue), palm oil (dark green) and
cotton (light green) as of the year 2000. Data source:
C Monfreda, N Ramankutty and J Foley, ‘Farming
the Planet 2: Geographic Distribution of Crop
Areas, Yields, Physiological Types, and Net Primary
Production in the Year 2000’, Global Biogeochemical
Cycles, 22 (1), 2009, p GB1022.
Hinterlands of the Capitalocene
How, then, to conceptualise the role of hinterlands in
supporting and buffering the metabolic dynamics, rifts and
crisis-tendencies of urbanisation under capitalism? This
challenge is, on the one hand, a conceptual one insofar as it
requires us to rethink the very nature of hinterlands in the age
of capital, or ‘Capitalocene’.9 It is, equally, one that will require
critical appropriations of newly available sources of geospatial
data, which may offer a powerful basis for investigating the
contemporary rearticulation of land uses, built and unbuilt
environments, and political ecologies around the world.10
It is not sufcient to posit that such non-city ‘outsides’
are constitutively important for city-building processes, or
to focus on measuring the role of such spaces as ‘taps’ and
‘sinks’ for the metabolic dynamics of capitalist urbanisation.
While this vast planetary hinterland covers nearly 70 per
cent of the earth’s terrestrial surface, and is densely layered
with productive, extractive, circulatory and informational
infrastructure, it has remained an obscure background to the
study of contemporary urbanisation. It is precisely in this
sense that the ‘black box’ of the hinterland must be opened
and systematically rearticulated to the central agendas of
urban studies. What is required is a framework that can
connect historically and geographically specic forms of city
and non-city space as coproduced, coevolving moments
within the combined, uneven, variegated and crisis-riven
world-ecologies of capitalist urbanisation.
The development of such a framework requires systematic
elaboration elsewhere. Here, it must sufce to offer some
initial generalisations regarding four key mutations of city/
hinterland relations that have been particularly pronounced
during the last half-century. These relatively abstract
propositions are not intended to foreclose more contextually
embedded lines of enquiry, but to stimulate further reection,
investigation and debate regarding the restlessly churning
dynamics of planetary urbanisation.
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis,
Visualisation of global trade of
basic materials, 1960–2010
Over the last decades, the global trade in primary
commodities – such as agricultural and forestry
products (biomass), fossil fuels, industrial
minerals, metals and construction materials –
has increased more than threefold. This reects
the increasing globalisation of hinterland
economies. Data source: F Krausmann, S
Gingrich, N Eisenmenger, K-H Erb, H Haberl and
M Fischer-Kowalski, ‘Growth in Global Materials
Use, GDP and Population During the 20th
Century’, Ecological Economics, 68 (10), 2009, pp
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis, Map
visualisation of population densities and
expansion of agricultural production zones,
1800 and 2000
opposite middle and bottom: The overlaying gradients on this composite
map depict worldwide population densities (blue) and the distribution of
agricultural production zones (red) between the years 1800 (top) and 2000
(bottom). Data source: HYDE 3.1 Spatially Explicit Database of Human
Induced Land Use Change Over the Past 12,000 Years (2011).
Distanciation and Infrastructuralisation
First, primary commodity production has been globalised
and specialised, causing local, contiguous hinterlands to be
enmeshed within specialised, export-oriented transnational
production networks. Contiguous hinterlands remain
important, but are no longer the norm, either in the older
industrialised world or in most Southern megacities. This
implosion-explosion of hinterland zones has been animated
by capital’s drive to increase labour productivity and extend
interspatial connectivity, both of which entail the construction
of large-scale infrastructural congurations.11 While such
strategies may temporarily boost prots, they also increase
the organic composition of capital, as living labour is
replaced by machinery, equipment and infrastructure. This
leads to the precipitous decline of the non-city workforce
(‘depeasantisation’), accompanied by the social and cultural
hollowing-out of rural regions, the establishment of robotised,
monofunctional landscapes, and massive ecological
devastation as parts of the countryside become ‘sacrice
zones’ for capital.
Hinterlands of Hinterlands
Second, as they are embedded within global supply chains,
hinterlands lose their articulation to specic zones of direct
consumption, urban or otherwise. The linear directionality
of von Thünen’s classic model – in which each hinterland
has ‘its’ city, and each city ‘its’ own hinterland – is thus
no longer a reliable guide. The point is not simply that
contemporary cities’ hinterlands are more distantiated than
previously, but that their operational logics, infrastructural
conguration, metabolic relays and developmental dynamics
have been qualitatively transformed. On the one hand, most
of the world’s most productive, specialised and export-
oriented hinterlands circulate their outputs to a multitude
of metropolitan agglomerations, or across the global
metropolitan network as a whole. Just as importantly, many
zones of primary commodity production are now most directly
articulated not to major cities and metropolitan regions, but
to other productive landscapes of cultivation, extraction,
processing and distribution, which are in turn embedded
and intermeshed within an intercontinental logistics space.
This situation is exemplied in the monocrop soya-bean
landscapes of Amazonia, whose outputs are mostly exported
as cattle feed to Chinese livestock hinterlands; in the export
of phosphate fertiliser from Central Florida to Brazilian agro-
industrial hinterlands; or in the use of hydroelectric dams to
power the extractive hinterlands of northern Chile.
From Formal to Real Subsumption
Third, most forms of primary commodity production
have remained heavily contingent upon the extrahuman
geographies of the earth system (for instance, soil and
weather conditions, water availability, or resource deposits)
which can only be modied through signicant industrial
investment (for instance, in fertiliser, greenhouses, irrigation
systems and other sociotechnical ‘xes’). Historically,
therefore, the industrial operationalisation of hinterland
spaces has occurred through strategies to establish new
resource frontiers and, as the latter are exhausted, through
compensatory efforts to intensify techno-extractive logics.
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis,
Map visualisation of food,
feed and biofuel cropland areas, 2000
opposite top: The overlaying gradients on this composite map
correspond to cropland areas dedicated to food production (blue) and
to feed or non-food uses, such as energy and industrial inputs (red)
as of the year 2000. Insofar as they supply specic industrial inputs
to other hinterlands (for example, cattle feed to livestock production
zones, or biofuel to the energy sector), the red zones represent
hinterlands of hinterlands. Data source: E Cassidy, P West, J Gerber
and J Foley, ‘Redening Agricultural Yields: From Tonnes to People
Nourished Per Hectare’, Environmental Research Letters, 8 (3), 2013, p
In both moments of this process, new industrial
infrastructures are established and intensively operationalised
before being superseded through capital’s restless
sociotechnical dynamism. Many contemporary hinterlands,
therefore, are no longer zones of mere ‘formal subsumption’
in which inherited socioecological resources are appropriated
as commodities for external market exchange. Insofar as the
geographies and ecologies of non-city zones have themselves
been systematically redesigned in order to intensify and
accelerate capital’s turnover time, a ‘real subsumption’
of hinterland spaces appears to be under way.12 In this
manner, many erstwhile hinterlands, or parts thereof, are
transformed into congurations of large-scale territorial-
ecological machinery: mechanised assemblages of human
and nonhuman infrastructure oriented towards capital
accumulation within a planet-encompassing prot-matrix.
Metabolic Rifts and Cycles of Creative Destruction
Fourth, the proliferation of specialised, capital-intensive,
infrastructurally elaborate and globally interdependent zones
of primary commodity production reveals not only the ways
in which inherited human and nonhuman landscapes have
been commodied, but the progressive exhaustion of their
capacity to contribute ‘ecological surpluses’ to sustain and
stimulate the accumulation process.13
The proliferation of such
metabolic rifts further accelerates capital’s drive to mechanise
hinterland geographies, at once through the substitution
of manufactured inputs into the production process and
through the construction of colossal techno-infrastructural
The hinterlands of the Capitalocene are,
therefore, chronically unstable.
As ecological surpluses are exhausted, the resultant
metabolic rifts severely destabilise prevalent regimes
of accumulation. Consequently, established hinterland
infrastructures are rendered obsolete, even though their
sociotechnical capacities may have been only partially
amortised. This leads to intense struggles over the
choreography, form, social impacts, ecological costs and
future pathways of landscape and territorial transformation.
As ecological surpluses are exhausted, the
resultant metabolic rifts severely destabilise
prevalent regimes of accumulation
For this reason, any contemporary approach to the
hinterland question must consider the systemic
vulnerabilities of those non-city spaces that have been
forged to support the globalising, prot-maximising
dynamics of supply-chain capitalism.
The Hinterland Question, Reframed
Under contemporary conditions, there is no singular
hinterland of ‘the’ city. Instead, non-city productive
landscapes have become more specialised,
infrastructurally dense and industrially intensive,
and they are intermeshed with one another through
extended material, operational and informational
linkages, as well as through their continuous but largely
indirect exchanges with (strategic nodes within) the
global metropolitan network. However, the operational
landscapes of planetary urbanisation are hardly a
stable foundation for territorial development, social
reproduction or ecological security. Indeed, even as
they support enhanced industrial productivity and the
Will the violent, prot-
driven illogics of
planetary urbanisation
continue to degrade,
erode and destroy
the fabric of social,
political and ecological
Text © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Images: pp 22-5, 26(b), 27-31 © Neil
Brenner and Nikos Katsikis
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis,
Map visualisation of nitrogen fertiliser
use in relation to the distribution
of cropland areas worldwide,
Since 1950, fertiliser use has increased ninefold, while total
cropland area has expanded by less than 30 per cent. This
composite map depicts annual levels and locations of nitrogen
fertiliser use (black-dotted pattern) in relation to the global
distribution of cropland zones (red gradient). Data sources:
N Ramankutty, AT Evan, C Monfreda and JA Foley, Global
Agricultural Lands: Croplands, 2000, SEDAC (Palisades, NY),
2010, and P Potter, N Ramankutty, EM Bennett and SD Donner,
Global Fertilizer and Manure, Version 1: Nitrogen Fertilizer
Application, SEDAC (Palisades, NY), 2012.
1. For an overview see: Nikos Katsikis, From Hinterland to Hinterglobe:
Urbanization as Geographical Organization, Doctor of Design (DDes)
thesis, Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University (Cambridge,
MA), 2016.
2. Edward W Soja, Postmetropolis, Blackwell (Oxford), 2000.
3. Richard Florida, ‘The World is Spiky’, The Atlantic Monthly, October
2005, pp 48–51.
4. For overviews and detailed citations of these literatures, see Katsikis,
From Hinterland to Hinterglobe, op cit.
5. See Henri Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution [1970], trans Robert
Bononno, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis), 2003; and Neil
Brenner (ed), Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary
Urbanization, Jovis (Berlin), 2013.
6. Johann Heinrich von Thünen, Von Thünen’s Isolated State [1826], trans
Carla M Wartenberg, ed Peter Hall, Pergamon Press (Oxford), 1966.
7. Gavin Bridge, ‘Resource Triumphalism: Postindustrial Narratives of
Primary Commodity Production’, Environment and Planning A, 33, 2001,
p 2154.
8. See Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid, ‘Towards a New Epistemology
of the Urban?’, CITY, 19 (2–3), 2015, pp 151–82; Katsikis, From Hinterland
to Hinterglobe, op cit; and Brenner, Implosions/Explosions, op cit. These
texts explain in more detail the specic conceptualisation of planetary
urbanisation we are presupposing here.
9. On the ‘Capitalocene’, see Jason W Moore (ed), Anthropocene or
Capitalocene?, PM Press (Oakland, CA), 2018.
10. Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis, Is the World Urban? Towards a
Critique of Geospatial Ideology, Actar (Barcelona), forthcoming 2020.
11. David Harvey, The Limits to Capital [1982], Verso (London), 2018.
12. William Boyd, W Scott Prudham and Rachel A Shurman, ‘Industrial
Dynamics and the Problem of Nature’, Society and Natural Resources, 14
(7), 2001, pp 555–70.
13. Jason W Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life, Verso (London), 2015.
14. David Goodman, Bernardo Sorj and John Wilkinson, From Farming to
Biotechnology: A Theory of Agro-Industrial Development, Blackwell (New
York), 1987.
accelerated, long-distance circulation of commodities, the
hinterlands of the Capitalocene expose local territories and
communities to increasing turbulence, risk and precarity,
while systematically degrading the ecological preconditions of
both human and nonhuman life.
How, and by whom, has this planetary urban fabric
been forged? What are its social, political, institutional,
regulatory and ecological preconditions? What are its major
contradictions, crisis-tendencies and vulnerabilities? Can the
massive sociotechnical capacities it has unleashed somehow
be harnessed to support more just, democratic, nonviolent,
culturally vibrant and ecologically sane forms of collective
existence? Are there alternative forms of urbanisation,
planetary or otherwise, and can their sociometabolic
dynamics be reexively designed, negotiated and
institutionalised through political agency? Or will the violent,
prot-driven illogics of planetary urbanisation continue to
degrade, erode and destroy the fabric of social, political
and ecological existence? These are among the most urgent
dimensions of the hinterland question in the Capitalocene. 1
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... Fostering regionalist and territorial perspectives, it promotes synergies between city and hinterland (operational landscapes supplying goods and products) through strategies such as the pooling of resources, the reduction of distances between places of residence and work as well between place of production and consumption (Barles, 2018;Brenner, 1999;Brenner & Katsikis, 2020). It clashes with administrative issues and political-economic barriers. ...
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The circular economy (CE) has taken hold among urban development plans and programmes, yet research on the application of the concept in urban design and planning is still in its infancy. This paper provides a systematic review of the literature related to CE, urban planning, and design. It investigates how the literature is clustered by subject area as well as the epistemological positioning and methodological approach of different research clusters. Results suggest that objectivist and conceptual approaches are most wide-spread, although practical and constructivist approaches are emerging. Planners and designers are being called upon to lead more integrative research.
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Resumo O fenômeno da financeirização é pouco sistematizado em suas expressões socioespaciais, embora o tema seja frequente nos estudos urbanos. Em geral, os trabalhos só revelam uma parcela do problema, pois desconsideram a cidade como mediação interescalar nos processos. Isso dificulta o entendimento sistemático da reprodução socioespacial urbana da financeirização. Desse modo, o artigo levanta a seguinte questão: como a financeirização se reproduz no espaço urbano? Ao utilizar a noção de níveis urbanos, Henri Lefebvre indica uma proposta integradora que considera a cidade como mediação sistêmica entre o global e o cotidiano, mobilizando e ultrapassando escalas. Analisa os setores habitacional e varejista para mostrar que a crescente penetração da lógica financeira intensifica desigualdade, segregação e fragmentação nas cidades brasileiras. Shopping centers, super e hipermercados, espaços residenciais fechados e e-commerce são algumas de suas expressões. Finalmente, apresenta um quadro síntese acompanhado da proposição conceitual denominada de pulverização urbano-diferencial da lógica financeira. Revela que a financeirização se processa como pulverização sistêmica nas cidades, com diferenças geográficas, num fluxo renovado de valorização do capital. Elucida a complexidade inerente ao movimento de reprodução socioespacial urbana da financeirização e ilumina novas estratégias e práticas espaciais.
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In 1982, the artist Agnes Denes and several volunteers grew two acres of wheat near Manhattan’s financial district, titling the project Wheatfield: A Confrontation . Denes had undeniably eco-ethical intentions, and her work was celebrated as environmentalist. But did Wheatfield ’s pastoral aesthetic confront the capitalist power structures Denes hoped to critique or offer urban elites a picturesque spectacle? The notion of hinterland—literally, land behind a city that provides natural resources and labor power—guides this chapter’s inquiry into ideas and ideologies that lay behind Wheatfield . As the climate emergency exacerbates polarizations between urban and rural contexts, studying Wheatfield yields important clues for how contemporary ecopolitical art might disrupt ecologically and socially unjust systems, cultivate alternatives, and avoid compromise, complicity, or appropriation.
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This introduction first considers the history of the hinterland as not just any spatial distribution but one driven by and instrumental to the workings of the capitalist-colonialist-climatic assemblage. Subsequently, it contends that an interdisciplinary conceptual approach to hinterlands that straddles the humanities and social sciences allows for critical and engaged reflection on the haunting afterlives of colonialism, the logistical turn of global capitalism, the impending threat of environmental collapse, and persistent urban-suburban-rural-wilderness divides. The introduction closes by outlining how, together, the contributions to this volume make clear that while hinterlands are primarily realms of extraction and abandonment, they are places of possibility as well, where alternative ways of living together and new forms of care, including for the planet, may flourish.
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Land-sea interactions, extending inland and towards the marine spaces, are affected by major management and design transformations. Globalization processes, port expansion projects and extensive energy transition requests have recently led port institutions to demand more land, engaging deeply with logistics platforms and radically restructuring forms of port governance. In this competitive context, the phenomenon of Port Clusterisation, i.e. the administrative aggregation whereby two or more ports are merged to form port clusters, is heavily impacting the institutional sphere. However, not only does this phenomenon have no control over cities, but its spatial component seems to be neglected by the disciplines of space, such as urbanism and architecture. As a result, port and city institutions lack design tools to tackle urgent challenges as coastal utilization, the need for resilient port-city infrastructures and the regeneration of the port-city architectural heritage. In terms of novelty and contribution to academia, an examination of the spatial footprint of port clusters will allow research to move beyond its state-of-the-art by targeting a phenomenon that, though pivotal, is under-researched, especially within the spatial disciplines.
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Existing literature suggests that food, fiber, and raw material sectors differ from manufacturing in significant ways. However, there is no analytical basis for engaging the particular challenges of nature-centered production, and thus the distinct ways that industrialization proceeds in extractive and cultivation-based industries. This article presents a framework for analyzing the difference that nature makes in these industries. Nature is seen as a set of obstacles, opportunities, and surprises that firms confront in their attempts to subordinate biophysical properties and processes to industrial production. Drawing an analogy from Marxian labor theory, we contrast the formal and real subsumption of nature to highlight the distinct ways in which biological systems - in marked contrast to extractive sectors - are industrialized and may be made to operate as productive forces in and of themselves. These concepts differentiate analytically between biologically based and nonbiologically based industries, building on theoretical and historical distinctions between extraction and cultivation.
It is now commonplace to assert that the contemporary discursive landscape is strewn with an abundance of environmental narratives. Yet these stories about nature seldom speak of the material geographies that link practices of postindustrial consumption to often-distant spaces of commodity supply. A postscarcity narrative in which the availability of natural resources no longer poses a limiting factor on economic growth, therefore, characterizes the current period. In this paper I examine how these narratives of `resource triumphalism' construct the nature of commodities and the places that supply them. Using a range of sources, I illustrate how extractive spaces are constructed through a discursive dialectic which simultaneously erases socioecological histories and reinscribes space in the image of the commodity. The paper advances the claim that, despite their apparent marginality in narratives of postindustrialism, primary commodity-supply zones play a key role within broader narratives about modernity and social life. I draw on Hetherington's reworking of the concept of heterotopia to argue that commodity-supply zones be considered contemporary 'badlands', marginal spaces in and through which broader processes of sociospatial ordering are worked out. By examining the geographical imaginaries associated with mineral extraction, I demonstrate how contemporary discourses of commodity-supply space facilitate the material practices through which such ordering occurs.
  • W Edward
  • Soja
Edward W Soja, Postmetropolis, Blackwell (Oxford), 2000.
Anthropocene or Capitalocene?
  • On The 'capitalocene
  • Moore
On the 'Capitalocene', see Jason W Moore (ed), Anthropocene or Capitalocene?, PM Press (Oakland, CA), 2018.
Is the World Urban? Towards a Critique of Geospatial Ideology, Actar (Barcelona)
  • Neil Brenner
  • Nikos Katsikis
Neil Brenner and Nikos Katsikis, Is the World Urban? Towards a Critique of Geospatial Ideology, Actar (Barcelona), forthcoming 2020.