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Urban History Notes

History Notes > Disciplines of History: Comparative History & Historical Argument Notes

This is an extract of our Urban History document, which we sell as part of our Disciplines of History: Comparative History & Historical Argument Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Disciplines of History: Comparative History & Historical Argument Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

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Urbanisation*and*Urban*Culture*
What%is%a%city?%
How%is%it%imagined?%
What%is%specifically%'urban'%about%'urban%culture'%and%'urban%modernity?%
Are%all%cities%the%same?%
Look%at%how%the%city%has%been%experienced%and%used%?%sites%of%consumption,%liberation,%
political%dissent%and%sex%
How%governments%have%perceived%and%mapped%the%'threats'%of%the%city%?%immigrant%
communities,%prostitution%and%criminal%activity%
How%governments%have%sought%to%control%the%'problems'%of%the%city%?%mapping,%town%
planning,%architecture,%policing%etc.%

Past*exam*questions*
! Has%the%cosmopolitanism%of%urban%life%been%exaggerated?%(2010)%
! Does%urban%life%encourage%sexual%freedom?%(2009)%
! Have%cities%been%liberating%environments?%(2008)%
! Why%have%some%societies%celebrate%city%life%and%others%idealised%the%countryside?%(2007)%
! Does%the%emergence%of%great%cities%always%produce%distinctive%metropolitan%cultures?%
(2006)%
! What%can%architecture%reveal%about%differences%between%regions%and%states?%(2005)%

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Disciplines of History

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Urbanization and urban culture

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Exam Questions (2005) What can architecture reveal about differences between regions and states?
(2006)

Does the emergence of great cities always produce distinctive metropolitan cultures?

(2007)Why

have some societies celebrated city life and others idealized the countryside?

(2008)

Have cities been liberating environments?

(2009)

Does urban life encourage sexual freedom?

(2010)

Has the cosmopolitanism of urban life been exaggerated?

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Things to think about A question on 'urban history' comes up on Disciplines pretty much every year. It tends to circulate around similar themes:

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What is a city? How is it imagined? What is specifically 'urban' about 'urban culture' and 'urban modernity'?

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Are all cities the same?
how the city has been experienced and used (as sites of consumption, liberation, political dissent, and sex)

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how governments have perceived and mapped the 'threats' of the city (immigrant communities, prostitution, criminal activity)

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how they have sought to control the 'problems' of the city (mapping, town planning, architecture, policing etc).

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Cities*Class*
Decline%of%the%classical%city%?%was%this%across%the%whole%Roman%Empire?%
East%v.%West%
~%East%?%continuity%and%commercially%successful%
~%West%?%elites%move%out%and%towns%decline%
%
~%In%the%north%2%thirds%of%cities%vanish%
Islamic%areas%
~%Architecture%is%built%over%
~%Trading%in%city%walls%
~%Islamic%elite%are%a%mercantile%elite%
Roman%law%?%focus%on%public%space%
Islamic%?%private%interest%
~%Forum%is%built%over%
~%The%centre%is%the%mosque%
The%Roman%elite%are%ambivalent%to%urban%environments%?%aspects%of%virtue%and%vice%
~%Central%to%culture%v.%country%gentlemen%
~%Yet%cannot%be%seen%as%rustic%
~%Also%a%site%of%vice%?%corrupting%influence%
After%decline,%elites%move%out%of%town%
~%Rural%nobility%and%mercantile%town%elite%
Class%zoning?%
~%Not%in%Roman%cities%?%mixture%with%a%focus%on%the%forum%
Greece%?%at%the%end%of%the%5th%century%there%is%a%new%wave%of%politicians%with%merchant%
backgrounds%
Rich%centred%around%forum%
~%There%are%shops%and%trading%within%their%own%domestic%environment%
Early%modern%cities%have%different%centres%
~%London%?%streets%
~%Italy%?%squares%
Conscious%segregation%of%Jews%
Victorian%?%attempts%to%subvert%zoning%
~%'Sexually%transgressive'%groups%and%working%classes%

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Late%medieval%?%are%creating%cities%
~%Nobility%would%build%markets%to%obtain%money%
Tension%of%nobility%taxing%towns%
~%Poverty%caused%in%the%country%
Domestic%service%?>%immigration%
Women%owned%property%
Urban%and%rural%symbiosis%?%particularly%in%the%Netherlands%
Transition%to%industry%in%the%countryside%

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End%of%early%modern%cities%?%metropolises%

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16th%and%17th%centuries%?%there%were%only%really%dominating%capital%cities%and%large%ports%
Hinterland%of%cities%can%damage%smaller%towns%

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Did%cities%have%their%own%identity?%
~%More%to%do%with%specific%groups?%
~%Towns%and%cities%were%very%small%
Elites%sought%to%control%the%metropolis%
~%Try%to%supervise%all%the%time%
~%New%city%planning%
Saltaire,%Yorkshire%?%towers%on%corners%of%a%grid%plan%street%
~%Benthamite%perspective%
Many%different%plans%such%as%having%a%300ft%high%tower%for%every%square%mile%in%Victoria%
People%knew%each%other%and%politics%know%what%is%going%on%?%people%watch%each%other%
~%Neighbourhood%control%

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Light%is%particularly%important%?%rhetoric%against%the%slums%
~%'Dark%avenue'%of%Vauxhall%Gardens%?%areas%of%vice%
~%Napoleonic%idea%of%bringing%light%
Post?colonial%Dublin%?%western%implant%?>%not%local%
~%Colonial%symbols%of%power%in%architecture%?%post%house%and%law%courts%
Walter%Benjamin%?%study%of%Paris%in%the%late%19th%and%early%20th%century%
~%Such%a%large%city%that%it%was%a%microcosm%of%the%whole%society%
~%Identification%with%particular%areas%
Movement%out%of%towns%?>%suburbs%

By%the%20th%century%people%are%theorising%a%lot%more%on%what%they%want%from%the%city%
%
~%Safety%
%
~%Better%living%conditions%
! Jacobs%?%against%state%planning%
%
~%Streets%should%be%safe%areas%?>%should%be%as%many%people%on%them%as%possible%
%
%
~%Solution%of%population%density%?%safety%through%large%groups%of%strangers%
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~%Talks%of%the%'ballet%of%the%street'%?%people%rush%to%aid%people%
! Disintegration%of%social%cohesion%?%want%a%busy%street%life%
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~%Migration%destroys%the%community%
! Le%Corbusier%?%wants%open%spaces%and%population%density%for%economic%benefit%
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~%Does%not%want%machines%to%give%greater%leisure%time%as%this%would%lead%to%people%
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on%the%streets%
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~%Wants%to%regulate%leisure%?>%sports%grounds%outside%every%residence%
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~%Sport%can%develop%human%virtues%
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~%Role%of%nature%?%live%life%according%to%the%sun%
! Le%Corbusier%particularly%emphasises%the%benefits%of%nature%
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~%Lots%of%open%spaces%and%trees%with%vertical%buildings%
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~%Also%concerned%about%harnessing%of%purity%of%nature%?%light%and%air%are%very%%
important%

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~%Optimum%temperature%
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~%Very%worried%about%bacteria%?%wants%artificial%air%
~%Controlled%and%planned%city%
Thought%that%this%moderated%environment%was%liberating%?%rescuing%people%from%
contamination%
~%'Paris%could%only%be%saved%by%intervention'%
Ebenezer%Howard%?%space%for%nature%?>%'garden%city'%
Le%Corbusier's%'Radiant%City'%?%fulfilling%French%Revolution%ideals%
~%Sees%it%as%a%provider%of%liberty%
~%Giving%structure%and%proximity%of%people%to%activities%?%liberating%people%from%
boredom%
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~%Characterises%cities%as%lonely%and%boring%?%better%to%have%a%high%population%
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density%
~%Wanted%to%separate%out%areas%
Jacobs%?%should%have%cultural%areas%to%engender%a%sense%of%community%yet%must%be%
'organic'%
Collective%identity%?%segregation%can%emphasise%differences%
Community%which%was%moved%out%of%Bethnel%Green%?%not%linked%to%people%in%the%new%
area%
~%Lack%of%friendship%and%kinship%
~%In%this%new%area%people%were%more%wary%and%guarded%
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~%Conceptions%of%people%are%not%due%to%relations%?%important%cultural%%
representations%through%wealth%
Gender%and%racial%aspect%?%segregation%
~%Not%just%class%
Zukin%?%development%of%Jacobs%
~%Focused%on%New%York%
~%Organic%use%of%places%v.%impositions%of%the%state%
~%'Authenticity'%?%created%by%diversity%and%cultural%capital%
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~%Attracts%new%artistic%and%fashionable%people%
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~%Authentic%area%is%then%imposed%upon%by%large%corporations%?%drives%out%%
people%who%gave%it%its%authenticity%
~%State%intervention%is%not%actually%a%good%thing%
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~%Need%to%encourage%small%businesses%and%rent%control%
Bombay%and%Dublin%?%rural%is%authentic%
~%Cities%are%a%western%implant%
China%?%exams%are%chief%way%of%recruiting%officials%
~%Focus%of%cultural%achievement%?%poems%and%art%
Urbanisation%and%industrialisation%
~%South%America,%Africa%and%Asia%?%many%theories%

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David%Smith%?%conventional%ecological%approach%
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~%Urbanisation%and%modernisation%are%interconnected%
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~%Urbanisation%is%always%for%the%benefit%of%society%
! 1970s%?%urbanised%centres%in%the%Third%World%
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~%Comparative%Political%Economy%Approach%?%in%the%Third%World%imbalance%and%
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inequality%are%inevitable%?>%will%never%reach%the%standard%of%the%western%metropolis%
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%
~%Shanty%towns%v.%elite%centre%
! 1980s%?%not%just%class%that%defines%a%city%
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~%History%and%ideology%of%the%country%
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~%Nairobi%?%interesting%case%study%as%to%why%it%managed%to%have%greater%%
development%
! Buenos%Aires%?%slum%was%seen%as%shameful%by%the%government%but%also%as%necessary%
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~%Not%possible%to%clear%them%at%that%point%
! Slums%can%still%have%their%own%healthcare%and%education%

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Cannot%enforce%ideology%on%a%city%
~%Must%have%an%'organic'%cycle%of%regeneration%
People%in%shanty%towns%often%have%political%rights%but%their%economic%positions%mean%
that%they%can%do%little%
Governments%may%only%try%to%change%a%city%when%areas%may%impinge%on%the%city%
Different%models%for%slum%clearance%
~%Migration%
~%Violence%
Dependent%on%ideas%of%redistribution%of%wealth%and%resources%
~%Is%there%a%concept%of%the%welfare%state?%
Victorian%London%?%slums%were%seen%as%exotic%
~%Middle%classes%go%to%live%in%the%slums%to%experience%them%
%
~%Rhetoric%of%reform%yet%found%it%exciting%
%
~%Repositories%of%fantasy%in%poor%areas%
Novelty%of%areas%in%South%America%?>%tourism%
South%Africa%?%slums%are%part%of%city%life%
~%People%do%not%see%it%but%they%live%with%it%
~%Does%not%seem%to%matter%any%more%
What%is%a%city?%
~%Idea%of%an%abstract%city%v.%part%of%wider%society%
~%Walled,%spatial%area%
~%Economic%
~%Legal%
~%Imagined%community%
~%Shared%cultural%discourses%?%importance%of%monuments%
~%Mutual%psychology%?%'Londoners'%?>%more%conceptual%
Uniformity%of%cities%?%part%of%urban%culture%around%the%globe%
Urbanisation%is%a%global%phenomenon%
~%Generally%richest%section%are%more%globalised%

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Metropolises%?%link%of%metropolitan%elite%across%the%world%
~%Globalisation%

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Cities%are%also%distinct%from%each%other%
~%London%industrialises%much%earlier%than%Spain%?%important%lag%in%development%

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Can%now%identify%similarities%between%cities%due%to%increased%links%
Communication%can%erode%separate%identities%
Lack%of%communication%can%lead%to%'organic'%identities%being%produced%
Nowadays,%cities%compete%and%copy%each%other%

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What%defines%cities%is%movements%?%cannot%be%detached%
~%People%
~%Capital%
~%Goods%
~%Knowledge%

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Cities%lead%to%the%decline%of%hinterlands%

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