The Newsletter 67 Spring 2014

Whither the 'Asian' City?

Sin Yee Koh

Reviewed publication:
McKinnon, M. 2011. Asian Cities: Globalization, Urbanization and Nation-Building, Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 288 pages, ISBN 9788776940799 (pb)

The worlds of Santosh, or Mohammed or the women of Yangzhou cannot be explained by globalization yet that does not relegate them to the category of ‘traditional’ or ‘backward’. They live in kaleidoscope worlds, as does anyone living in a rapidly changing capitalist city. It is a world in which making a living is an erratic, uncertain enterprise; in which faith can be regular observance, occasion for celebration or simply overlooked; in which marriage provides status and security but also carries risks. They are worlds in which ‘of the city’ or ‘being urban’ is the here and now, in which ‘west’ might be no more than a compass point. [p. 107]