Handbook of Urban Geography, by Tim Schwanen and Ronald van Kempen (eds). Edward-Elgar Publishing (2019).
Reviewed by: Mark Wilson, Michigan State University
Handbooks provide a valuable reference to the contemporary state of thought for a field, and the Handbook of Urban Geography is no exception. Editors Tim Schwanen and Ronald van Kempen have curated an excellent volume of thirty chapters that address seven fields within urban geography. The accelerating fragmentation of academic disciplines along with the value of diverse perspectives makes periodic scans a valuable contribution for new and seasoned scholars alike. The increasing complexity and interconnectedness of the world are well analyzed through the multiple disciplines represented by human geography, including current issues of inequality, urbanization, network society, political trends, and the unfolding implications of Covid-19.
With such a varied and wide-ranging set of chapters the Handbook offers a current perspective of a field rich with strong foundations and rapidly evolving new additions. As cities age and the economic and social forces that created them evolve, urban areas face the need to change, essentially the ongoing process of retrofitting past places to serve the interests and need of the present. The major sections of the volume consider urban theory, networks, redevelopment, inequality, socialities, politics, and concluding with a discussion of sustainability.
Overall, the Handbook is a valuable contribution to human geography through its ability to distil and synthesize many fields and perspectives within geography and the associated social sciences. The book is a useful reference to capture current thinking and is well placed for an upper undergraduate or graduate seminar or as a way that scholars can learn more when their interests intersect with human geography. The volume demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary thought and interaction, with many of the chapters showing the insights possible through the merging of ideas focused on urban geography.
The full book review will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs.
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