Thursday, May 13, 2010

David Harvey: Gentrification in Baltimore and Barcelona

Just received a link to this on Facebook from AK Press.

It’s urban sociologist and Marxist geographer David Harvey in dialogue with our friend Marina, an activist and documentary videographer from Barcelona. In the video, David talks about the history of urban development and gentrification in Baltimore, and in Barcelona. It’s an interesting conversation, and a useful one, especially for those of us who are thinking hard about the nature of urban development in the United States and how that affects the work we do as activists and organizers. It’s a reminder that we need to look both inside the U.S. and outside of it to really understand how development happens, and to find models for how we can work to shape the social, political, and geographical worlds we live in.

There's also a link to Chris Ealham's book Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-revolution in Barcelona, 1898–1937, which, as you can see from the sidebar to this blog, is the book I just finished reading, and a mighty good read it is too.

. . . in some ways, the struggle for control of the city’s spaces that Ealham discusses in the context of the early industrial period before the Spanish Civil War are still going on today. A friend of mine, one of the most brilliant folks I know, and an urban activist herself, told me recently that she thought that Chris’s book was the best analysis Barcelona she’d read to date, which I take as very, very high praise.

It also points to a deeper relevance of a book like Anarchism and the City than we might realize at first glance. When I talked to Chris about promoting his book, really early on, he talked about it as not just a history, but as a blueprint for contemporary action. He told me a story about a talk he gave in Barcelona, at the end of which an activist working in one of the city’s old industrial neighborhoods came up to him, and told him that their group was using Anarchism and the City as a “manual de lucha,” a fighting manual. How many historians can say that? So watch the video, and then check out Chris’s book for some historical context.

For those who watch the video to the end, there's a site here for the Hotel Vela in Barcelona that actually uses Harvey's quote!

No comments: