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Distributed for UCL Press

Re-Centring the City

Urban Mutations, Socialist Afterlives and the Global East

Distributed for UCL Press

Re-Centring the City

Urban Mutations, Socialist Afterlives and the Global East

Re-Centring the City rethinks the concept of the center in studies of the urban across the social sciences and humanities. Through cases ranging from Moscow and Berlin to Mexico City, Cairo, and Chennai, the contributions explore the tension between forces of decentering and recentering as they reshape the political, economic, and social fabric of the urban and force us to reconsider the genealogy of the contemporary global city.    
By drawing our attention back to the center as an object of analytical and empirical study, this book counters a long-term trend in both planning and urban scholarship that emphasizes decentralization as the hallmark of the twenty-first-century city. It argues that such a “centrifugal” turn in urban studies is neither empirically accurate nor normatively incontestable, especially when one looks beyond the West. Rather, as the contributions to this volume show, decentering obscures the ways in which the center continues to exert a powerful influence on cities of today. The concise chapters, situated at the intersection of urban studies, social anthropology, architecture, and art theory, provide new perspectives on the role of the center in defining the city’s terrain. Together, they constitute a collection of sharp, provocative interventions into debates about the transformation of global urban forms in the twenty-first century.

264 pages | 140 color plates | 9 1/4 x 6 1/4

Free digital open access editions are available to download from UCL Press.


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Table of Contents


Alena Ledeneva and Peter Zusi

Introduction: Notes towards a political morphology of undead urban forms

Jonathan Bach and Michal Murawski

Part I. Moscow, point of departure

1. Centre and periphery: a personal journey

Vladimir Paperny

2. Fortress city: the hegemony of the Moscow Kremlin and the consequences and challenges of developing a modern city around a medieval walled fortress

Clementine Cecil

3. Appropriating Stalinist heritage: state rhetoric and urban transformation in the repurposing of VDNKh

Andreas Schönle

4. The city without a centre: disurbanism and communism revisited

Owen Hatherley

5. Mutant centralities: Moscow architecture in the post-Soviet era

Dasha Paramonova

II. Off centre: palatial peripheries

6. Berlin’s empty centre: a double take

Jonathan Bach

7. Phantom palaces: Prussian centralities, and Humboldtian spectres

Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll and Jonas Tinius

8. Palatial socialism, or (still-)socialist centrality in Warsaw

Michal Murawski

Part III. Looking inward: re-centring the sacred

9. The Architecture of the Seventh Day: building the sacred in socialist Poland

Kuba Snopek with Izabela Cichonska and Karolina Popera

10. Post-shtetl: spectral transformations and architectural challenges in the periphery’s bloodstream

Natalia Romik

11. Eat, pray, shop! The mosque as centrum in the Swedish suburbs

Jennifer Mack

Part IV. Looking upward: power verticals

12. Verticality and centrality: the politics of contemporary skyscrapers

Steve Graham

13. Partitioning earth and sky: vertical urbanism in post-socialist Mumbai

Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao

14. Vertical horizons: the shadow of The Shard

Thomas Wolseley

Part V. Looking outward: hinterlands, diffusions, explosions

15. New geographies of hinterland

Pushpa Arabindoo

16. De-escalating the centre: urban futures and special economic zones beyond poststructuralism’s neoliberal imaginations

Patrick Neveling

17. Explosion, response, aftermath

Joy Gerrard

Part VI. Things fall: (after)lives of monumentality

18. Domestic monumentality: scales of relationship in the modern city

Adam Kaasa

19. On an alleged thought of inflicting harm on a Lenin statue

Oleksiy Radynski

20. We’re losing him! On monuments to Lenin, and the cult of demolition in present-day Ukraine

Yevgenia Belorusets


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