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Can the straw man speak? An engagement with postcolonial critiques of 'global cities research'

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journal contribution
posted on 17.10.2018, 07:45 by Michiel Van Meeteren, Ben Derudder, David Bassens
This paper engages with postcolonial critiques of global cities research (GCR). We argue that such criticisms tend to be hampered by their tendency to be polemical rather than engaging, as evidenced by both the quasi-systematic misrepresentation of the core objectives of GCR and the skating over of its internal diversity. We present a genealogy of postcolonial critiques starting from Robinson’s (2002) agenda-setting discussion of GCR, followed by an analysis of how her legitimate concerns have subsequently morphed into a set of apparent truisms. These misrepresentations are then contrasted with the purposes, diversity, and critical character of GCR as actually practiced. We interpret this discrepancy to be part of a gradually routinized straw man rhetoric that emerged as an unfortunate rallying point for postcolonial urban scholars. The consequence is that GCR tends to be casually invoked to distinguish one’s own position. We conclude by advocating practices of ‘engaged pluralism’ rather than ‘polemical pluralism’ when doing global urban research and propose that critical realism can provide an important epistemological bridge to make different positions communicate.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Dialogues in Human Geography

Volume

6

Issue

3

Pages

247 - 267

Citation

VAN MEETEREN, M., DERUDDER, B. and BASSENS, D., 2016. Can the straw man speak? An engagement with postcolonial critiques of 'global cities research'. Dialogues in Human Geography, 6 (3), pp.247-267.

Publisher

SAGE Publications © The Author(s)

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

01/11/2016

Publication date

2016-11-01

Notes

This paper was published in the journal Dialogues in Human Geography and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1177/2043820616675984.

ISSN

2043-8206

eISSN

2043-8214

Language

en