Global City Makers: Economic Actors and Practices in the World City Network, by Michael Hoyler, Christof Parnreiter, and Allan Watson (eds.). Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018
Reviewed By Sören Scholvin, University of Hanover
The world city network “can be seen as the ‘collective product of the agency’ of particular actors” (p. 10), the editors argue in the introduction to Global City Makers. The volume offers insights into the manifold ways in which world cities are shaped by economic and political actors. These are brokers and owners of real estate, commodity traders, consultants in the banking sector, expats working for transnational financial firms, offshore service providers, as well as various formal and informal coalitions involved in urban politics. The book’s eight chapters deal with a variety of cities and topics, ranging from real estate brokerage in London to advanced producer services in Hamburg and Mexico City. They reveal “how intermediaries [meaning global city makers] operate to articulate and control economic activities” (p. 5).
I found the book to be innovative and interesting to read; moving forward, research that further develops the inroads paved by Global City Makers should address two issues: First, Global City Makers is a plea for qualitative research on world cities and I would argue that such research will become even more convincing if methodologies are applied that allow for results that are more reliable. Second, postcolonial scholars have criticized the world city literature for its bias toward the Global North, something that also characterizes Global City Makers. This bias is not so much about where the authors of each chapter come from or how many cities from the Global South are studied. Research on world cities tends to conceptually ignore experiences from the Global South. For example, the authors of the chapter on offshore financial services in Mumbai do not, unfortunately, use their intriguing findings to revise our general understanding of world cities, possibly by overcoming the focus on sophisticated advanced producer services.