Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox
Chapter 4: Imperialism and World Cities
Anthony D. King IMPERIALISM Examining the relationship of imperialism to world cities depends on how both terms are understood. In its simplest sense, imperialism describes a process by which one state extends its rule, usually by military power, over the territory and population of others, in earlier times, to form a contiguous realm. In modern times, imperialism has more often involved acquiring overseas colonies, the aim being to exploit subjugated populations in order to extract economic and political advantage. Developing as a term and concept in English especially after 1870, imperialism refers to a phenomenon that originates in the metropole; what happens in the colonies, as a result of imperial control, is colonialism, or neo-colonialism (Loomba, 1998). As a corollary, imperial or postimperial cities are in the metropole, colonial or postcolonial cities in the colony. More sophisticated interpretations of the term link it to the analysis of capitalist accumulation, the periodization of capitalism into successive eras and, related to this, the political division of the world into different countries (Weeks, 1988). As recently as the late nineteenth century, world space was dominated by some 16 (mostly European) empires, each with their imperial capital, other major inland and port cities, and the marine, land and, eventually, aerial transportation links between them. That the six official languages of the United Nations are those of what were historically once the world’s largest empires, English, Russian, Qing Chinese, French, Spanish and Arabic, is sufficient evidence of both the past and continuing importance of previous...
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