Impact, Influence, Activism

Roster of World Cities

Source: Beaverstock JV, Smith RG and Taylor PJ (1999) ‘A roster of world cities’, Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning, 16 (6), 445–458

Highly-cited: My research on world cities has been reported on extensively in the world’s print and on-line media (in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and other fora), and my journal papers are among the most highly-cited and reprinted in the world – a few examples: on ISI web of science my Cities (1999) paper has 337 citations; my Annals (2000) paper has 201 citations; one of my Progress in Human Geography (2003) papers has 73 citations and is noted as one of the fifty most frequently cited. My urban research papers have been reprinted in no fewer than 7 edited collections. You can access my publications via the original sources; some are also available through ‘Cronfa’ (Swansea University’s Research Repository), and, through academia.eduORCID, and other on-line portals.

Highly-influential: My research on World Cities forms a part of the AS / A Level Geography syllabus in the Core Human Geography section on ‘Settlement Dynamics’.

Activism: my research interests engage with issues of social justice, community empowerment, and participatory urban development in cities across the world. For example, see my writing on ending bonded labour practices in Dubai; and/or on the implications of satellite imagery for potentially disempowering poor communities in the mega-cities of the developing world. My research interest in favela painting in Brazil has involved: First, the exhibition of my award winning photograph to audiences in the UK and USA (at the Digital Technium and Taliesin Arts Centre (July-August 2015); Swansea Grand Theatre (September-October 2015); the Royal Institution in London (February-March 2016); University of Texas, Austin (April-May 2016)) to raise the profile and purpose of such community initiatives. Second, my attendance (sponsored by Santander bank) and communication of a favela painting initiative undertaken by Brazilian friends in Belo Horizonte’s Morro do Papagaio (Parrot Hill) favela to urban practitioners and sponsors at the 2016 United Nations Habitat III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito. This also involved writing an article for Links Magazine: Chamber of Industry & Commerce Ecuador & Great Britain (Special issue for UNESCO Habitat III conference, Quito, October, page 35). Current activity concerns the planning of fund raising campaigns to buy paint!

Non-academic users: My research on World Cities has been highly influential across the world shaping the urban agendas of, and influencing leadership in, many cities. For example, influencing the ‘transnational local councils’ of Sydney and Vancouver, see: (1) Stein R (2002) Sydney Globalizing: A World City in National, Pacific Asia & International Context (Report Commissioned by Bahaus Dessau Foundation, Bauhaus Kolleg (Dessau, Germany), 98 pages; (2) City of Sydney (2000) Yearbook 1999 (Council of the City of Sydney; (3) Tourism Vancouver.

Media coverage: I was interviewed for background information on Global Cities for BBC Radio 4 ‘Analysis’ Programme (2009). I was interviewed on TV for Colombian Television on Global Cities (Medellín, 2013).

Just a few examples of reports about my world cities research from around the world in the popular/business press are:

1) The Bulletin “Melbourne: Chic happens” August 14th 2002; (2) Wallpaper April 2000; (3) The Dallas Morning News “Dallas is C-list? Whatever” 17 May 2000; (4) Dallas Morning News “The Time has come for Dallas-Fort Worth to ease into urban maturity”, 4th March 2001; (5) The Sydney Morning Herald“A beta way to do business” 4 March 2002; (6) Frankfurter Rundschau “Schluss mit bunt / Die Kulturkonzerne treiben die digitale Revolution voran” 28th August 2002; (7) Johannesburg News Agency“World class cities and iconic architecture”, 22nd May 2006; (8) Metromode “Michigan Aerotropolis”, 31stMay 2007; (9) Edge Singapore “As I call it: Are we a global city?”, 7th August 2006; (10) Philadelphia Daily News “Why evicting elephants is a dumbo idea”, 9th October 2006; (11) Houston Chronicle “Houston seeks world’s attention”, 1st December 2006; (12) Svenska Dagbladet “De globala städerna på frammarsch”, 1st December 2003; (13) Geographical: Special Issue on Mega City One, “Boom town”, April, 2008; (14) Chicago Sun-Times “Alpha bravo! Chicago in top ten”, 21st March 2007; (15) San Antonio Express-News “Assuming S.A. wants to be a world city, how do we get there?”, 20th May 2007; (16) Journal of Risk Finance “Global Financial Centres: One, Two, Three … Infinity?”, March 2006; (17) Manila Bulletin “437th Foundation Anniversary of the City of Manila”, 24th June 2008; (18) National Post“Taking the city from beta to alpha”, 3rd February 2007; (19) The Globe and Mail “Does beta city have what it takes to be an alpha?”, 25th January 2007; (20) The Business Times Singapore “Alpha city Singapore”, 9th August 2005; (21) The Bulletin Australia “Melbourne: Chic happens”, 14th August 2002; (22) Business Traveller, “Sothern belle”, March 2011; (23) The Globe and Mail “A crisis of culture”, 19thJune 2000; (24) The Globe and Mail “And now a word about Toronto”, 3rd July 2000; (25) Global Traveller: The Source for Luxury Business Travellers “On the Rise: Upbeat Atlanta spreads its wings in new directions” February 2015, 58-59; (26) Quartz “Nations are no longer driving globalization – cities are”, 3rd May 2013; (27) Sydney Morning Herald “Sydney not yet a true global city” 12th April 2014.

Academic users: My research is discussed in many papers and books. Just a few examples, see: Hall P (2002) “Global City-Regions in the Twenty-first Century”, in Scott A (Ed.) et al. Global City-Regions(Oxford University Press), pp. 59–77; Hubbard P (2006) City (Routledge, London); Jacobs JM (2012) “Urban geographies I: Still thinking cities relationally”, Progress in Human Geography 36 (3), 412–422; Bryne D (2001) Understanding the Urban (Palgrave, New York); Clark D (2003) Urban world/global city (Routledge, London) 2ndedition; Kaplan D H, Wheeler J O & Holloway S R (2004) Urban Geography (John Wiley & Sons); Abrahamson M (2004) Global Cities (Oxford University Press); Short J (2006) Urban Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, New York); Fossaert R (2001) “World cities in a world system”, Hérodote 105 (2nd March), 10–25; Marston S A, Jones III JP & Woodward K (2005) “Human Geography without scale”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30, 416–432; McCann E (2002) “The Urban as an Object of Study in Global Cities Literatures: Representational Practices and Conceptions of Place and Scale”, in Herod A & Wright M W (eds) Geographies of Power: Placing Scale(Blackwell, Oxford), pp. 61–84; Robinson J (2016) “Theorizing the global urban with ‘global and world cities’ research: Beyond cities and synechdoche”, Dialogues in Human Geography 16 (3), 268-272.

Most recently the validity of my critique of the ordinary city critique of the world and global cities literature (see Smith 2013 ‘The Ordinary City Trap‘; and, ‘The Ordinary City Trap Snaps Back‘) has been further confirmed, and I am pleased that my paper has had the desired effect of increasing dialogue within what had been an increasingly polarized Global Urban Studies: e.g. see McNeill, D (2017) Global Cities and Urban Theory (Sage, London); or: Meeteren Mv, Derudder B, Bassens D (2016) “Can the straw man speak? An engagement with postcolonial critiques of ‘global cities research’, Dialogues in Human Geography, Vol 6 (3), 247-267.

My impression is that world cities scholars are in denial about my critique of Peter Taylor’s interlocking world city network model. Simply thinking that my critique is ‘poststructuralist’ is a wholly inadequate response (see Taylor and Derudder in the 2nd Edition of World City Network), and obscures the fact of the logical fallacy at the heart of Taylor’s model with regard to identifying command-and-control centres within the overall world city network. Please note that my critique of Taylor (2001 onwards) is not an auto-critique of the foundational research on the world city network which I undertook and published with him and Jon Beaverstock (Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999, 2000). Our work avoided the logical fallacy subsequently introduced by Taylor (2001). See: Smith RG (2014) “Beyond the global city concept and the myth of ‘command and control’”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38, 98–115.

Teaching: I teach a final year module on World Cities. The theme of the ‘authentic’ assessment for the 2017-18 module is ‘London After Brexit’; the topic of my invited TED talk given in London in June 2017. My module enables final year students to advance their interest in World Cities, and my research paradigm which they first encountered in AS/A Level Geography, in a way that is not only theoretical and empirical, but also practical – enabling their exploration of the ‘real world’ application of world cities research and theory to understand one of the UK’s most important and challenging contemporary issues: ‘London After Brexit’.