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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Elgar original reference

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.

Chapter 41: Mumbai as a Global City: A Theoretical Essay

Jan Nijman

Subjects: geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, regional studies, urban studies


Jan Nijman Mumbai is often viewed as South Asia’s main global city. It is now included in most general representations of global urban networks and it is sometimes considered emblematic of world cities in the ‘south’. Mumbai is a fascinating city in its own right, the kind of place that never fails to intrigue and that draws attention in myriad ways. It is, following the title of Suketu Mehta’s (2004) book, a ‘maximum city’. But Mumbai is also ‘good to think’. It invokes comparison; it demands a place in a conceptual sense, visà-vis other cities. Upon closer inspection, Mumbai provokes essential questions about the notion of world cities, urban networks, the scale or reach of world city functions, geographic context, comparative urbanism and the history of globalization. This chapter engages six critical issues in the treatment of Mumbai as a global city. The first concerns Mumbai’s ranking in world city schemes. The second pertains to the significance of the global as distinct from local or regional effects in Mumbai’s development. The third is about the delineation of Mumbai’s hinterland. Fourth, in the inevitable comparing of Mumbai with other global cities we must consider historical trajectories and path dependency. Where does Mumbai fit? Fifth, matters of social stratification and polarization have been integral to world city debates ever since Friedmann’s original hypothesis, but Mumbai presents a case that is fundamentally at odds with the situation in North American or European cities. Finally, it is important to say a few words...

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