Human geographer Joe Pierce has a new book coming out in November 2022. The book argues for a "place-framing" approach to thinking about how cities are contested. It uses illustrative cases from around the globe to explore how competing communities work to tell the story of a city in distinctive ways, seeking resources and control.
New Book, "How To Think About Cities", from Geography Senior Lecturer Joe Pierce
Cities are raucous, cacophonous, and complex. Many dimensions of life play out and conflict across cities’ intricate landscapes, be they political, cultural, economic, or social. Urban policy makers and analysts often attempt to “cut through the noise” of urban disagreement by emphasizing a dominant lens for understanding the key, central logic of the city. How To Think About Cities sees this tendency to selective vision as misleading and ultimately unjust: cities are many things at once to different people and communities.
Building on prior research on place and place-making, Geography faculty member Joe Pierce and co-author Deb Martin use six case studies from around the world to try to show how "place-framing" shapes the present and future of cities. These cases include the City of London, Tehran, Worcester Mass., Portland Ore., Chongqing, and Jerusalem. In each case, the book shows how different actors seek to hail others into their frame, and the implications of thinking of the city as one kind of place or another.
Martin and Pierce call for an explicitly hybrid perspective that shifts between many different frames for making sense of cities. This approach highlights how any given stance opens up some lines of inquiry and understanding while closing off others. Thinking of cities as sites of contested perspectives promotes a synthetic approach to urban analysis that emphasizes difference and political possibility.
“This book will change how you think about cities and the urban. Martin and Pierce advance place-framing as a deeply compelling approach to studying cities. They draw from classical texts and concepts in urban studies and allied fields to offer a new and highly accessible way to untangle the messiness of the city.”
Katherine Hankins, Georgia State University