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The Evolving Spatial Form of Cities in a Globalising World
Johannesburg and São Paulo
Martin J Murray
210mm X 148mm | 64pp. | 0-7969-2072-9 | R40.00 | 2004

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Other titles in the Democracy & Governance Occasional Paper series:
Popular Attitudes towards the SA Electoral System
Democracy in Africa: Moving beyond a difficult legacy
Fragments of democracy: Nationalism, development and the state in Africa
Whose Right is it anyway? Equality and conflict of rights in SA

In this paper, Murray draws our attention to the large metropolises that dominate as economic power bases - cities such as New York and Japan - and then contrasts them with cities that aspire to such "world-class" status as Johannesburg and Sao Paulo, using the concept of "global cities" as a key context to the discussion.

While mindful of the historical and socio-political differences between South Africa and Brazil, the author notes the city's similarities in terms of their global marginalisation as key players, as well as the parallel ways their urban architecture has developed. Sao Paulo and Johannesburg both share a colonial past, and both became wealthy through exploitation of natural resources (coffee, minerals). Both share the development of an ever-growing chasm between the rich and the poor, reflected in contemporary designs of urban space. Murray illustrates the point that the design of urban space is not simply a matter of aesthetics, but is also a complex
sociospatial process that encodes power relations.

Murray takes a sharp, incisive look at the factors which are shaping the spaces in two contemporary cities, and comes up with a pithy commentary which is part architectural critique, part socio-political comment and part
post-modern debate. Evolving Spatial Forms of Cities in a Globalising World Economy - Johannesburg and Sao Paulo (HSRC Press) offers much to occupy readers with an interest in all of the above - and more.