Neil Brenner lecture at GSD Open House 

(Note: Brenner presentation begins at: 9:20)

In this lecture for the GSD’s Fall Open House guests, Neil Brenner summarizes the critique of inherited approaches to urban theory and contemporary urban ideologies which he, Christian Schmid and others have been developing under the rubric of “planetary urbanization.”  He argues for the centrality of theoretical frameworks and abstract concepts in mediating all aspects of research, representation and practice, and on this basis, he examines and critically evaluates some of the framing assumptions that mediate contemporary debates on the “urban” dimensions of the modern world.  This argument is developed through a critical discussion of the nighttime lights map of the world, which has become one of the most influential contemporary spatial representations of the global urban condition.  Several counter-visualizations are presented from the work of the Urban Theory Lab that destabilize this and other hegemonic frameworks of global urban spatial ideology.  This work of critique is intended to open up new horizons for understanding, mapping, influencing and imagining emergent patterns and pathways of urbanization across the variegated geographies of our planet.