Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity

Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity

Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity

Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity


King draws on architectural, urban and built environment writings and evidence in various cities across the world to examine existing theories of globalization and develop new ones. His critical reviewing of theorists and architects including Giddens, Harvey, Hirst, Rogers, Foster, etc. features prominently.


One day in May 1983, when visiting the United States from Britain, I was sitting, waiting for lunch, in a restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, having finished the lecture I had come over to give. I was thinking of the book manuscript I had recently sent off to the publishers just before leaving the UK. Though the manuscript was finished, I was not happy with the subtitle. My intention there was to suggest that, in what had over time increasingly become a capitalist world economy, a particular type of individual and consumer-oriented form of outer suburbanization, as well as occasional leisure space, represented by a distinctive (though varying) form of one storey dwelling (everywhere referred to by the same term, 'bungalow'), had developed in 'advanced' and especially postindustrial societies. This had first occurred in the colonial and postcolonial countries of the English-speaking ecumene, but by the late twentieth century could be found in all five continents of the world (King 1984). More indirectly, I was also using this as a metaphor for an increasingly architecturally homogenized world. The book was about the various historical, economic, social, political and cultural conditions which had been instrumental in the production of both. Just before the waiter arrived, and quite innocent of the logical, epistemological, let alone historical or conceptual problems I was laying ahead for myself, the subtitle I was searching for suddenly came into my head: 'The Production of a Global Culture'.

Since that time, over the last twenty years I have been both intrigued and mystified by the way the phrase 'global culture' has crept into the language, not only in the academy but also in the public domain. As with one's name, a word or phrase we're familiar with invariably jumps off the page. Others must certainly have used this phrase before 1983 but, with the ability to do keyword searches in computer databases, I have, to date, not discovered the term either in a book or journal title prior to 1984.

Like globality, globalism, or globe-wide, 'global culture' is just one of the many terms and phrases introduced into the now widespread discourses on globalization and globalism which, as others have pointed out, are words that were included neither in the Oxford English Dictionary nor Webster's Dictionary prior to 1960. The first book with 'global culture' as the main title, a collection of essays edited by sociologist of culture Mike Featherstone appeared in 1990. Since then, the phrase has become established in the academy, penetrated parts of the media and no doubt will soon be heard on the street. (In 2003, it could be found in the titles of at least forty books and articles. See Chapter 2.)

This might all, of course, be part of the general 'global babble' (Abu-Lughod 1991) which has massively increased since the 1990s. We might naively

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