Extraordinary Cities

Extraordinary Cities

Millennia of Moral Syndromes, World-Systems and City/State Relations

Peter J. Taylor

In this innovative, ambitious and wide-ranging book, Peter Taylor demonstrates that cities are the epicenters of human advancement. In exploring cities as sites through which economies flourish, by harnessing the creative potential of myriad communication networks, the author considers cities from varying temporal and spatial perspectives. Four stories of cities are told: the origins of city networks; the domination of cities by world-empires; the genesis of a singular modern creative interval in which innovation culminates in today’s globalised cities; and finally, the need for cities to act as centres for human creativity to produce a more resilient global society in the current crisis century.

Chapter 5: Normal history

Peter J. Taylor

Subjects: geography, cities, politics and public policy, international politics, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory, urban and regional studies, cities


This chapter is an intermission; its purpose is the aid the reader in making the imaginative leap from many beginning creative interludes to the singular modern creative interlude. These creative interludes are the chief subjects of this book: exceptional times of change over-supplied with extraordinary cities. Through contrasting Normal History with the creative interludes, the unusual character of the interludes should be brought into sharper relief. And describing Normal History provides the added bonus of providing a link in the narrative, a bridge between the creative interludes. There are four sections to this textual intermission. First, I focus on defining Normal History and propose a Jacobsean way of specifying it. Second, I describe some key practices and trace them across the bounds of Normal History. Third, I briefly consider more generally the content of Normal History and suggest its basic temporal and spatial properties. Finally I foreground the Normal History of Western Europe as the region in which the modern world-system was created.

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