The City and Home

In Rebel Cities, Harvey asks whether “the city” is more than “a passive site…where deeper currents of political struggle are expressed.”[1] Noting that the city is itself produced by those who inhabit it in all capacities, Harvey suggests that there might be “something about the urban process and the urban experience…under capitalism that…has the potential to ground anti-capitalist struggles.”[2]

Harvey defines the city in terms of material conditions and processes (“there is a seamless connection between those who mine the iron ore that goes into the steel that goes into the construction of the bridges across which the trucks carrying commodities travel to their final destinations of factories and homes for consumption. All of these activities…are productive of value and of surplus value”[3]). He also notes that urbanization collapses the distinction between production and  reproduction (“while the production and reproduction of urban life, while some of it can be ‘dismissed’…as ‘unproductive’ in the Marxist canon, is nevertheless…part of the ‘faux frais’ of the reproduction of the class relations between capital and labor”).[4]

What is the relationship between Harvey’s conceptualization of “the city,” and notions of home? How does the project of “rebuild[ing] and re-creat[ing] the city as a socialist body politic in a completely different image” differ, intersect with, and implicate projects of reimagining and reconstructing home? By “home,” I refer to a sense of belonging that has some sort of geographical, though not necessarily territorial, dimension. If “home” is something that reproduces urban life, but that also exceeds the territorial bounds of the city—I’m thinking specifically of transnational and Internet communities who may locate home in physical, virtual, and imaginary spaces both within and beyond the city—what happens to it in the context of urbanization and the collapsing of production and reproduction?

[1] Harvey, Rebel Cities, 117.

[2] Ibid, 119-120.

[3] Ibid, 130.

[4] Ibid, 131.

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