The metropolitan owl of Minerva

9783837620436_720x720Urban Studies recently published a review I wrote of Thick Space: Approaches to Metropolitanism (Transcript Verlag, 2012).

As I say in the review, the book is frequently fascinating, but seems torn between a retrospective analysis of the metropolis as a vital historical urban form and a desire to project that form onto current (arguably post-metropolitan or at least non-metropolitan) processes of urban change. The result is that the book is something like a metropolitan owl of Minerva:

The book begins with the observation that ‘it is hard these days to ignore the growing buzz about metropoles’ (p. 9). Is that true? Is the buzz growing? A careful reading of the last decade of urban studies would suggest instead that it is a new set of polycentric and unruly urban forms – megalopolises, mega-cities, megaregions, city-regions, mega-city regions and the like – which are ascendant, and which indeed are actively transforming yesterday’s metropolises into something new and not yet properly understood. Hegel famously observed that the owl of Minerva only spreads its wings at dusk. Thick Space may be the metropolitan owl of Minerva, shedding retrospective clarity onto an urban phenomenon even as the latter evolves beyond recognition.

The full text of the review is available at Urban Studies.