GaWC Research Bulletin 170

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This Research Bulletin has been published in PJ Taylor, B Derudder, P Saey and F Witlox (eds) (2007) Cities in Globalization: Practices, Policies and Theories London: Routledge, pp. 258-270.

Please refer to the published version when quoting the paper.


Poststructuralism, Power and the Global City

R.G. Smith*


In 2003 in the journal Urban Geography an article by the sociologist Meyer was published. Meyer’s article amounts above all to an observation that theory on the global network of cities remains undeveloped. Meyer rightly observes that there is a “theoretical lacuna” that needs to be addressed “… if scholars are to make greater progress in understanding the global network of cities”. Meyer contends that we need to ‘deepen’ the theory of the global network of cities and so implies that we need to refine existing political-economic and world-systems approaches. However, my argument is somewhat different. This chapter further develops a line of argument (see Smith, 2003a, 2003b, 2005, 2006) that is moving away from, not deepening, political economy and world-systems perspectives on the global network of cities. This chapter further develops the argument that one way to make progress in our theoretical and empirical research on urban networks is to engage with the ideas of Deleuze (and other poststructuralists), and the new philosophies of connection - inspired by Deleuze’s writings - of actor-network theory (ANT) and non-representational theory.

Meyer’s article fails to acknowledge that recently some alternative theoretical progress has begun to be made on theorising urban networks. A ‘new urbanism’ 1 has started to emerge which is trying to reimagine the connectivity of cities through ideas from poststructuralism, ANT, and non-representational theory (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Doel & Hubbard, 2002; Latham, 2002; Smith, 2003a, 2003b). This recent theoretical effort fully takes on board the idea that the concept of networks may be enhanced through poststructuralist relational thinking and it is to this project that this chapter contributes by outlining both a poststructuralist-inspired approach to cities and a spatial conceptualisation of the power of highly connected cities through their actant networks.

This chapter argues that it is the very fabric – the filamental materiality - of cities that produces their power. The fabric of highly connected (global) cities is one of networks of actants (humans and non-humans) that produce affective power through their interactive capacity to make and modify relations. To make this argument the chapter is in two halves. In the first half a new approach to urban studies is broadly outlined as a poststructuralist and ANT inspired approach to cities is contrasted to the intrinsic and extrinsic approaches that dominate urban studies. In the second half of the chapter an account of urban power as a co-product of actant-networks (associations of many different actants) that is decentred (non-individual) and disseminated through networks (the very fabric of cities and globalisation) is outlined. Thus, it is shown how power in urban networks can be conceptualised through the extension of Foucault’s poststructuralist ideas by ANT (though writers such as Latour and Law) where everything is taken away to clear the path for an alternative analysis of power.


Everything now returns to the surface

Deleuze (1990: 7)

To my knowledge the first poststructuralist-inspired book on the contemporary city was Zone 1/2 (Crary et al., 1986) 2 published almost twenty years ago. The opening paragraph to the book is rhizomatic – “and … and … and …” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987: 25) - and sets the scene for the development of a poststructuralist and ANT approach to cities and their networks 3 ;

“To draw a carp, Chinese masters warn, it is not enough to know the animal’s morphology, study its anatomy or understand the physiological functions vital to its existence. They tell us that it is also necessary to consider the reed against which the carp brushes each morning while seeking its nourishment, the oblong stone behind which it conceals itself, or the rippling of water when it springs toward the surface. These elements should in no way be treated as the fish’s environment, the milieu in which it evolves or the natural background against which it can be drawn. They belong to the carp itself, insofar as it is not defined as a distinct form capable of a set of movements or as a particular organism performing a series of functions. Instead, the carp must be apprehended as a certain power to affect and be affected by the world. In other words, rather than a formed and organized individual, the brush should sketch a life, since a life is constituted simply by traces left behind and imprints silently borne” (Feher & Kwinter, 1986: 10)

The aim of the editors of Zone 1/2 was to be faithful to the precepts of the Chinese masters and let the city emerge “… as a specific power to affect both people and materials – a power that modifies the relations between them” (page 11). For them the city is not a fixed background against which things occur, or an environment in which things occur, but has a power to affect that is “neither a side-effect nor an attribute of a city-substance”, but “is itself the very fabric of the city’s consistency” (page 11). Feher & Kwinter are mindful of the poststructuralist argument that the city (like anything) is not to be found in a specific place, it is never simply present, but rather obeys a logic of supplementarity to always be both present and absent. However, they also anticipate an ANT like argument that would see the city as an event diffused through actant-networks. That is to say the argument that the city has a filamental materiality (see Smith 2003b) populated by actants. We know from ANT that an actant is anything with the capacity to act and so can be human or non-human such as an object, a technology, or a knowledge (eg. a fax machine, a written document, money, a mobile electronic gadget, a computer system, a skill, an organisation, the list could be almost endless). What is more we know that actants join together to form heterogeneous networks where each influences and strengthens the other in a process of mutual influence (actants are enrolled as allied to give strength and power). To quote Latour (1988: 159), “No actant is so weak that it cannot enlist another. Then the two join together and become one for a third actant, which they can therefore move more easily. An eddy is formed, and it grows by becoming many others”. It is through that process of making actant networks – the fabric of urban life - that cities come to have a power to affect. Let me now explain in detail how poststructuralist-inspired thinking has dramatic consequences for the intrinsic and extrinsic approaches that have shaped urban studies in the twentieth-century.

An Alternative to Intrinsic and Extrinsic Approaches to the City

Broadly speaking to gloss over complications and various nuances there are two dominant approaches to the city (see Feher & Kwinter, 1986). First of all there are intrinsic approaches that reduce the city to its innards in a way that seems analogous to a surgeon dissecting a body (complexity is reduced by shutting out the wider world). The most obvious example is the Chicago School (which was still influential into the 1960s) whose ‘members’ codified and introduced morphological and physiological approaches to the city (for a flavour of this work see Theodorson, 1982). Second, are the numerous extrinsic approaches to the city in geography, sociology and political economy that do not treat the city like a body but rather seek to explain the city from without as formed and shaped by exterior forces such as general socio-economic laws (eg. the forces of capitalism, patriarchy, or globalisation). Perhaps the most influential extrinsic approach in urban studies is the neo-Marxist approach of writers such as Harvey (1973) and Castells (1972). Their conceptualisation of the city as a product of capital and class was highly influential with, for example, Friedmann (1986) drawing on their ideas (and those of Wallerstein’s world-systems analysis) to directly connect the study of cities to the world economy through his seminal ‘world city hypothesis’.

Intrinsic approaches to the city are increasingly unpopular as even ‘common sense’ provides a powerful critique. In the popular press there is much talk of globalisation and worldwide networks – interconnection through wider and wider sets of relations – which questions how feasible it is to somehow delimit and demarcate a city (or anything) as a discrete unit, separate from the relations that run through it (there are no ‘worlds within worlds’). To quote Guattari (1986: 460) “The city no longer exists as an entity. It is only a node at the core of a multidimensional network – within the spatial web of urbanization…”. In short, a global perspective reveals how a city cannot be studied in isolation but has to be understood as belonging to a network of cities that stretch across the world. In contrast, extrinsic approaches where the city is seen as being overlaid by a capitalist dynamic still dominates thinking about the city, but I think this is only because a ‘common sense’ critique has not been made in the urban literature. In the social sciences extrinsic approaches have been effectively critiqued by postmodernism, poststructuralism, and also ANT writers such as Latour (1993: 125-126) who points out that external forces are;

“ … attributed by their critics to actors who did not ask for them. Take some small business-owner hesitatingly going after a few market shares, some conqueror trembling with fever, some poor scientist tinkering in his lab, a lowly engineer piecing together a few more or less favourable relationships of force, some stuttering and fearful politician; turn the critics loose on them, and what do you get? Capitalism, imperialism, science, technology, domination – all equally absolute, systematic, totalitarian. In the first scenario, the actors were trembling; in the second, they are not. The actors in the first scenario could be defeated; in the second, they no longer can. In the first scenario, the actors were still quite close to the modest work of fragile and modifiable mediations; now they are purified, and they are all equally formidable”

Thinking through Latour it seems to me that notions such as the post-industrial city, the postmodern or post-Fordist city, the late-capitalist city, the global city (and all the others) “only perpetuate a hidden dependence on systems ballasted by an infrastructure” (Guattari, 1986: 460). That is to say they only accentuate the myth of something happening outside the city that presses in upon it, and consequently eclipse the power of the city to affect the world. In other words, rather than suffer the sort of people who in a local meeting “… bring up international capitalism every time you try to have a discussion about rubbish-collection” (Massey, 1993: 66), the sort of people that think it makes sense to distinguish between global and local, foreground and background, or ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ views of the world, a new approach to cities is needed which realises that “… big explanations have to be replaced by little networks” (Latour 1996: 134). And this is why we should be inspired by Deleuze & Guattari (1983, 1987) to develop an immanent approach that think of cities as ‘bodies without organs’ (BwO), as continuums of flows and inensities held together only by those forces that compose it, because the BwO is not an extrinsic explanation of desire, but “… is what remains when you take everything away” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987: 151). In other words, desire is produced without reference to “… any exterior agency, whether it be a lack that hollows it out or a pleasure that fills it” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987: 154).

The City as a BwO

Thinking of the city as a BwO means abandoning all intrinsic and extrinsic approaches for an immanent approach where everything is at the surface, connected, and in movement. The BwO is a stunning critique of extrinsic approaches such as structuralism and therefore of organicism and the idea of the organism. And that is interesting when we come to think about cities because the story of the history of urban planning 4 is one of the ‘urban body’ being turned into the ‘urban organism’. That is to say that the city has not only been progressively dissected and differentiated into functional organ-ized zones, but has also come to be represented and rationalized as a circulatory system of all kinds of flows. Gille (1986) has examined the transition of the idea of the city as a body to that of the city as an organism. In the late 18 th century the hygienist movement was calling for remedies to the apparent sickness – the malaria urbana - of the urban body. They argued that the city was ill because it was suffering from confusion and stasis, and consequently to be made well the indistinct had to be differentiated and the stagnant (fixed) had to be put into circulation. Thus, for the hygienists the key motifs for urban planning – to be inscribed in the urban landscape - were differentiation and circulation. However, what is crucial to realise is that these two motifs are not separate. The hygienist’s realised that “… untangling the city’s imbroglios and turning them into ‘functional’ units would virtually amount to doing away with the city, cutting it up into isolated monads”, consequently the “… installation of a network of ‘circulation’ is a fundamental stage in modern urban surgery” (1986: 231). In other words, dissecting the city into small and disjoined units would kill the city because such units are “… incapable of self-sufficiency outside of the urban network that has established them”, and it is the network of circulation that “… becomes the purest and most essential expression of urban unity” (1986: 231). Thus, through administrating appropriate ‘medicine’ the city was ‘cured’, but the consequence was that the hygienist’s city became the norm and model for every city. And that is a key point because whilst “We thought we were dealing with potions, remedies, panaceas … we now have to admit that it was all a matter of law, principle and structure” (1986: 235). In fact, the success of the hygienist movement for purifying the city is somewhat uncertain with Gille arguing that hygiene was appealed to as a way to be heard when in fact many of their ideas had more “… to do with architecture or social reform than with health problems” (1986: 235).

One of the points of Gille’s (1986) work is to explicate how hygienism – with the fundamental principle of prioritising circulation over stagnation – became a discourse that was successfully concretised in urban procedures and led to the urban body being transformed slowly, but surely, into an urban organism. Gille discusses an opening address entitled “Circulation or Stagnation?” by the English hygienist F.O. Ward to an international congress of hygiene in 1852. Gille’s reading reveals how Ward extends – uses as an analogy – Harvey’s discovery of circulation in the body of the individual to naturalise the idea of circulation in the social body. Gille (1986: 239) is quite right in explaining Ward’s logic;

“For the city has finally discovered its intrinsic nature: it was because it was a body that it was sick, that it was not really a city; and it is because it is finally an organism that its eternal truth is revealed. An organism is a supposedly living being whose meaning nevertheless can be entirely reduced to the structure that accounts for it, whose organs are actualisations of abstract functions, whose essential finality is the preservation (and in this case, the extension) of its structure, a being whose concrete existence has no meaning as such”

This conversion of the city from a body to an organism is what would concern Deleuze & Guattari (1987) because “The BwO is opposed not to the organs but to that organization of the organs called the organism” (1987: 158). And that is the crucial point because it is not the body that the BwO opposes 5, but rather – remember your structuralism - the organic organisation of the organs called the organism. The organism (structuralism) is the enemy because, “… it is a stratum on the BwO, in other words, a phenomenon of accumulation, coagulation, and sedimentation that, in order to extract useful labour from the BwO, imposes upon it forms, functions, bonds, dominant and hierarchized organizations, organized transcendences” (1987: 159). Not turning the city into an organism is what this new approach to cities is all about. Rather than insisting that the city must be organized, must be an organism, must be conditioned by an exterior force, Deleuze & Guattari provide the inspiration for an approach that understands the city as “… a complex surface of activities and interactions” (Shields, 1996: 242). And that shift away from intrinsic and extrinsic approaches to the city to instead focus on the city as a surface of practices and relations is the basis for any understanding of the city as actant with a power to affect. Furthermore, conceptualising cities as BwOs, as immediately invested by positive and constitutive desire, reminds us of Foucault’s work on how power is implicit in everyday interaction. It is no coincidence that Deleuze & Guattari’s account of desire (the BwO) is in many ways analogous to Foucault’s version of power (and desire) in action as discourse, and consequently ANT’s conceptualisation of power as outlined by writers such as Latour and Law. As Baudrillard (1987: 17) rightly observes, “it’s simply that in Foucault power takes the place of desire”, in both Deleuze-Guattari and Foucault one has “… the deployment and the positive dissemination of flows and intensities”. To develop this point, and that of a new approach to global cities as actant, let’s draw on Foucault and Latour to discuss an ethnography of power by the ANT sociologist Law where abstract discussions of power take on flesh.

Poststructuralism and ANT: from Michel Foucault to Bruno Latour and John Law

In recent years there has been a shift towards thinking about the connections within and between cities, a shift to thinking about cities as - and in - networks, but what has tended to happen is that the networks within which cities are entangled have remained hidden as emphasis has concentrated on nodes (the cities) rather than the links. In fact, it is only with poststructuralism that we realise that the nodes are the links and vice-versa. What is more ANT adds to poststructuralism because it brings into consideration not only the networks in which cities are entangled, but also the actant power of those networks.

P erhaps the best way to begin this discussion of the city’s power to affect is to start with something that is like the city because it is also an object with the power to affect relations (but at least seems smaller). Massey’s (1999: 57) outline of an ANT explanation of the affect of a microphone in a seminar in Heidelberg is particularly audible;

“Just take a microphone, for example, and look at it as the product of a whole massive intersection of social relations, of relations between the microphone and other things, and all the networks that it took to make that thing, from the people who dug up the metals in the first place through to the people who did the advertising, through to the ways in which this particular brand of microphone came to be the one that got bought here, which was to do with all kinds of rhetorics of advertising and sales promotion and a million things, and to see it as the kind of materialised result of that network, a massive network, an impossibly complicated network, but also to see that it isn’t just a static thing as a node in that network, it has its own effectivity, which is to say it isn’t just a product. … The existence of that microphone has effects, it’s going to affect what happens to the distribution of this seminar later and therefore affect other social relations, it’s going to get into other classrooms, it’s going to make more people hear what we all say – so certain debates will get promulgated a little bit further as a result of the physical existence of that result called the microphone and a whole other set of relations. The whole world can be seen as these occasional temporary manifestations, materialisations of sets of relations in which not only human things are active conveyors of relations”

The microphone is an actant, both produced by and active in, a wide network of relations. An argument that ANT theorists have been making about relational networks is that non-humans such as machines and gadgets have affective power. In other words, both humans and non-humans have affects without necessarily having any intention to do so. This observation immediately broadens any conventional or social conceptualisation of networks. If we now think about actant-networks then the whole world becomes the materialisation of “ … sets of relations in which not only human things are active conveyors of relations” (Massey, 1999: 57). Like the microphone the city is actant with a power to affect because whilst, “Affect is often thought of as just a posh word for emotion … it is meant to point to something which is non-individual, an impersonal force resulting from the encounter, an ordering of the relations between bodies which results in an increase or decrease in the potential to act” (Thrift, 2003: 104). The city (like place) is a crucial actor in producing affects because it modifies relations and changes the affective connections that are made, remade and unmade. Thus, the important question to ask is how we can be consistent with Deleuze’s and Guattari’s (1987) rhizomatic BwO to provide both a new apprehension of power and a practical analysis of power? The answer is to turn to Foucault to realise how power is decentred, and to Latour and other ANT writers such as Law to see how power is disseminated through materials because, “… it’s so obvious that the world and its relations are made of materials” (Law & Hetherington, 2000: 35).

Law (1994, 1996; Law & Hetherington, 2000) in the spirit of Foucault provides an ANT account of how ‘Andrew’ (the Managing Director of Daresbury SERC Laboratory in the UK) has power. A distal (see Cooper & Law, 1995) or conventional view would see Andrew as the source of power, at the head of and in charge of a large organisation. However, a proximal or closer look reveals a different account of power in the laboratory. Law wonders what would happen if Andrew’s office materials, the non-humans, were removed (remember the earlier quotation from Deleuze & Guattari (1987: 151)). If he had no computer the consequences would be great. It would mean no spreadsheets, no means of calculation, no budgets or projections, and so no knowledge of the laboratory’s finances and economic viability. Furthermore, he would have no email, and if phone and fax were removed his ability to communicate beyond his office would be difficult to say the least. The point then is that when both humans and non-humans are stripped away (no technology, no secretary, no pocket calculator, no stationary, no postal service, etc.), and Andrew stands alone in an empty building, we are not left with a powerful man. And that means that we must recognize that Andrew’s power as a Director is necessarily extended, distributed, and produced through the arrangements of the organisation; “This, then, is the lesson. We are all spread out. We are nothing more than a network of social and technical relations. We are made by our organisational relations. Power resides elsewhere. It is always deferred. It is always a product. It is always an effect” (Law 1996: 4). In other words, Law’s story, which in many ways spells out a detailed explanation of Latour’s quotation (1993: 125-126), is that agency and power are decentred and disseminated - produced in between all kinds and number of actants – and consequently are within networks that can be of any size or length. Law’s ethnography contends that despite power seeming to be attributed in advance it does not belong to an individual (such as a manager, company director, or politician), or any group of people (with a unitary intent) perhaps ‘running’ an organization who are the apex of a hierarchy, but is dispersed, disseminated, displaced and produced through a network comprised of all manner of human and non-human actants that enable the network to act (and with globalisation, to act at considerable distance). In other words, it is the successful enrolment and involvement of actants in networks that makes a capacity and ability to act over distance, to project power.

Meanwhile, Andrew has all his technologies back, his secretary too, and everything else that was taken away. But it is now clear that he manages only “… within the relations made in his organisation” (Law, 1996: 6). In fact, it becomes clear that Andrew has very little choice in his decisions if he is to serve the organisation; “He is the creature of the organisation. He is the expression of the organisation. He performs the organisation. Its relations. Its projects. Its desires. Its goals” (Law, 1996: 6). Andrew is but a moment in the relations of the organisation, and it is those relations that work to remove his discretion, his ability to make free choices that do not serve the organisation. But something else becomes clear, Andrew has little choice but he does not simply follow ‘orders’. Andrew has a lot of responsibilities. He is a scientist, a manager, an administrator and an accountant at the very least. He is multiple because he is made up of these, and no doubt many other, organisational logics. Andrew is one of the many actants that make up the non-coherent organisation of the science laboratory, a laboratory that is replete with different logics and voices, full of negotiable responsibilities, and a world away from the notion of science as an unchallengeable force of domination (remember Latour, 1993: 125-126). Or so you might think from reading Law’s imaginative ethnography. But the closer you look the stronger Andrew is. Andrew is strong, the organisation is strong, because weaving, twisting, and folding produces sturdiness, resistance and strength. As Latour (1998: 2) puts it, “Strength does not come from concentration, purity and unity, but from dissemination, heterogeneity and the careful plaiting of weak ties”.

To begin to think of power in this new way you must reject the critique that is sometimes levied against Foucault, Deleuze-Guattari, and now Latour and ANT in general. They have been criticised for concentrating on details and the local scale (the microphysics of power, the micropolitics of desire, the micro-relations of actant networks) to the detriment of the big context and the global scale where the ‘real’ or ‘deep’ causes of large inequalities can be found (the ever-enduring structures of capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, neo-liberal and neo-conservative globalisation etc). The approach outlined here is different because the argument being made is that there is no such thing as scale (see Smith, 2003a) when your social theory and ontology is made of connections, associations, relations and networks that are more or less long, more or less durable, and more or less asymmetrical. The argument being made is even against those arguing for the social construction of scale precisely because the argument is that it is highly disempowering to shift to the big picture (think again of that quotation from Latour (1993: 125-126)) rather than follow a network, precisely because the political point is to question the relations that produce asymmetries.

In short, as poststructuralists we do not distinguish between processes and things (just like the BwO) and that means that the city (like anything) is both present and absent, here and there, near and far, local and global, precisely because it is made of relations. But crucially I am making the argument that something needs to be added from ANT to that basic poststructuralist argument. Thinking through Law’s discussion of ‘Andrew’ we are beginning to realise how the very fabric that makes up an office’s, a building’s, a city’s consistency is one of relations and networks that are replete with human and non-human actants. As such a city is a hybrid collectif (Callon & Law, 1995) with a power to affect.


“… the metropolis is not a center and has no center: made up of networks, it is itself caught up in a network of cities through which the flux of the world economy circulates. This transnational network is relatively independent of international boundaries”

Querrien (1986: 219)

“To think the city, one must leave it and see it as part of the world, extra-muros

Hénaff (1997: 61)

The point we have now reached is to realise that a poststructuralist and ANT inspired relational and networked perspective can transform research on power 6, and consequently any understanding of the power of cities. Let us think about the idea of ‘global cities’ (Sassen, 1991). Those who use that shibboleth never seem to unpack its core thesis that certain cities ( New York , London , Tokyo ) are centres that ‘command and control’ the world economy (see Sassen, 1991). Nowhere in the literature does any author try to explain in any detail the difference that networks make to the power of these cities to affect 7. Some of the key authors in world and global cities research, for example, simply talk about how the headquarters of transnational corporations (Friedmann, 1986) or advanced producer service firms (Sassen, 1991, 1994), are located in certain world or global cities and therefore those cities are ipso facto powerful. There is no argument as such, just an intuitive leap of faith. In contrast, ANT would support the idea of world and global cities as ‘switchers’, or more accurately, as actants with the power to affect and be affected through a networking, rather than a command, logic (an argument I pointed to in Smith, 2003b). It takes just a little imagination to ask what it would mean for our study of the power of world or global cities 8 if we did some ethnographic work that like the BwO abandons any extrinsic explanation in order to follow the constant movement of socio-technical (human & non-human) networks and so pay attention to how global reach and influence is accomplished, rather than to continue to think of networks and influence as somehow static and pre-given (as in Beaverstock et al., 2000; Castells, 1996; Taylor, 2001, etc). Extrinsic approaches must be resisted because as Latour (1999: 19) points out;

“… actors know what they do and we have to learn from them not only what they do, but how and why they do it. It is us, the social scientists, who lack knowledge of what they do, and not they who are missing the explanation of why they are unwittingly manipulated by forces exterior to themselves and known to the social scientist’s powerful gaze and methods”

If ‘Andrew’ was say the CEO of a TNC, an international banker, London’s or New York’s mayor, or the managing partner of a global law firm, then immediately our understanding of the power of world and global cities would be spatialised, broader, and much richer than any account that continued to pretend that power comes from concentration, agglomeration, a centre, a global (Sassen, 1991) or world (Friedmann, 1986) city as they are currently defined.


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* Dr Richard G Smith is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Leicester . He can be contacted at The Department of Geography, University of Leicester , University Road, Leicester , LE1 7RH , UK . E-mail:, Tel: 0116 252 3845 Fax: 0116 252 3854

1 The idea of a ‘new urbanism’ should not be confused with the new urban revanchism described and identified (or created) by Smith (1999) or the ‘new urbanism’ architectural design movement with key figures such as Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

2This book is rare, collected, and consequently hard to find and expensive to purchase.

3 ANT started to emerge at about the same time as Zone 1/2 was published. The Paris group of science and technology studies started using the idea of actor-networks in the 1980s (see Callon et al., 1986). It is not surprising that the quotation from Feher & Kwinter resonates with ANT because these writers have been heavily influenced by poststructuralism and writers such as Deleuze in particular (eg. see Kwinter, 2002)..

4 I think that the power of urban planning to produce cities has been highly exaggerated over the years. In contrast, the question of how desire constitutes the urban is hardly mentioned at all. The works of Deleuze & Guattari can perhaps guide us through the initial stages of the important task of thinking about how cities are emotional and affectual.

5. That is the fundamental mistake that Blake (2004) makes in her discussion of Deleuze. She reads Deleuze as opposing the body to the BwO and that error leads her towards political-economy and away from that poststructuralist and ANT thinking that has been transforming our thinking about the spatialities of power (see Law, 1991; Allen, 2003).

6See Allen (2003) to further understand this point.

7A conceptual inversion is required. In fact, why is there a literature on global and world cities if capitalism and industrialisation are prioritised over urbanization? Are deployed as the explanation of urbanism in the first and last instance. If all we have to do to account for the city is to understand the forces, processes, and structures of capitalism then a literature on global and world cities seems rather unnecessary. We must resist the drive to portray cities as special effects of structures to ask what is important about cities? What is important about city networks, rather than global economic, cultural, political, and social networks per se?

8The phrase and idea of the ‘global city’ is now commonly attributed to Sassen after her influential work of that title (1991). However, writing back in 1970 Lefebvre (2003) develops the idea of the global city after noting that the idea originates from Maoism and perhaps Mao Tse-tung himself.


Edited and posted on the web on 10th August 2005

Note: This Research Bulletin has been published in PJ Taylor, B Derudder, P Saey and F Witlox (eds) (2007) Cities in Globalization: Practices, Policies and Theories London: Routledge, pp. 258-270