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Why Emerging Megacities are Hip
Alex Steffen, 7 Apr 06

Why have the emerging megacities of the Global South spread so suddenly into our global consciousness? There are excellent practical reasons for caring about the megacity future, of course, but something more seems to be going on here. Rana Dasgupta lays out some possibilities in his sharp essay, The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City:

"My feeling is that these are early symptoms of a huge shift in the west’s picture of the world: the Third-World metropolis is becoming the symbol of the “new”. This is all the more thrilling for its utter improbability: surely those suffocating piles of slums and desperation are too exhausted, too moribund, to bring forth futures? But it seems to me this is exactly what is happening. If, for the better part of the 20th century, it was New York and its glistening imitations that symbolised the future, it is now the stacked-up, sprawling, impromptu city-countries of the third world. The idea of the total, centralised, maximally efficient city plan has long since lost its futuristic appeal: its confidence and ambition have turned to anxiety and besiegement, its homogenising obsession has constricted the horizons of spiritual possibility and induced counter-fantasies of insubordination, excess, and life-forms in chaotic variety. Such desires flee the West’s surveillance cameras and bureaucratised consumption to find in the Third World metropolis a scope, a speed, a more fecund ecology. "

(via Purse Lip, Square Jaw)

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