- Nigel Thrift - Tsinghua University, China
You can’t change the world without first seeing it through new lenses. Killer Cities shines a light on the ecocidal underbelly of urban life in a capitalist world. Using animals as a focus, Nigel Thrift advances concepts, arguments and evidence that might inspire us to make a very different urban future. The book is creative and hopeful in the face of formidable forces of mental and practical inertia.
This epic compendium on the ravages of planetary urbanism from one of geography’s most generative thinkers is above all, as the title suggests, a provocation. Whether it inspires or infuriates, it cannot fail to force thought.
People love cities. New York, Paris, Barcelona, London: These are the places where modern life has thrived. So much so that, by 2050, the United Nations predicts that almost 70 percent of the global population will live in cities. In the process, cities have become selfish places for humans to think only of themselves. In Killer Cities, Nigel Thrift invites us to include a broader menagerie into cities—many of which are already there anyway, but pinned under the boot of humanity. The result is liberatory—for people and creatures of all kinds, but also for cities themselves.
Killer Cities documents the long histories of violence done by cities, the killings, displacements and neglect. It also holds out the hope that cities can be reimagined as unfolding sites of experimental cohabitation. Thrift draws from a vast range of sources, celebrating those who recognize the multiple knots of obligation that human beings have to each other, to other-than-human beings and to the planet itself. It is a book for our time, as pandemics, climate change and the anthropocene increasingly unsettle the category of the human.
The breath-taking thesis of this book is that the re-cognition of cities and the future of humanity requires not only thinking about but with animals. To use a term the book itself employs, this is social theory as enjambment. In Killer Cities, thinking runs on and over - from species to species - without terminal punctuation.