Excerpt from ‘War of the Words’ – Tristram Hunt (in case you missed it).
“In discussions of the modern city the voice of Engels resounds equally powerfully. Perhaps his most faithful acolyte today is Mike Davis, whose 2006 book, Planet of Slums, constitutes a searing update of The Condition. Davis recounts with equal vituperation the sanitary state of the modern mass conurbations (“Today’s poor megacities – Nairobi, Lagos, Bombay, Dhaka and so on – are stinking mountains of shit that would appal even the most hardened Victorians”), and points to the power relationships underpinning spatial inequality. A chapter entitled “Haussmann in the Tropics”, investigating squatter and working-class clearances in contemporary Africa, China and central America, is pure Engels. “Urban segregation is not a frozen status quo, but rather a ceaseless social war in which the state intervenes regularly in the name of ‘progress’, ‘beautification’, and even ‘social justice for the poor’ to redraw spatial boundaries to the advantage of landowners, foreign investors, elite homeowners, and middle-class commuters.” In the sprawling, slum and suburb conurbations of India, the main axis of social separation has reverted from race back to class as economic inequality now defines the nature of urban exclusion from Chenai to Mumbai. Behind this process of economic segregation, in Davis’s template, are the forces of modern international capitalism – the IMF and World Bank – determined to carve out islands of “cyber-modernity” amid unmet urban needs and underdevelopment.”