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Beyond Plague Urbanism


A soulful and poetic examination of the future of city life

Our cities have been plagued by economic injustices and inequalities long before COVID-19 upended urban life everywhere. Beyond Plague Urbanism delves into this zone of urban pathology and wonders what successive lockdowns and exoduses, remote work and small-business collapse, redundant office space and unaffordable living space portend for our society in cities and our cities in society.

The city has historically been a Great Book inspiring a liberal education, the kind that teaches you how to become a citizen of the world. The city was always an existential rite of passage, especially for young people, broadening horizons, deepening your whole being. But lately our great seat of learning has remaindered a lot of its classics texts, closed down public access, and auctioned off its campus to the highest bidder. The city’s romance is already talking alimony. How to resuscitate the city as a vast open-air public library? How to redraft this Great Book together? How to dialogue anew about its table of contents, re-typesetting the future social life contained within its leaves?

Andy Merrifield journeys intercontinentally as he reflects on these questions, in a narrative that moves imaginatively between literature and life, plague and populist politics, public values and private inclinations, the U.S. Main Street and the British High Street, overcrowding and undercrowding, the right to the city today and eco-cities of tomorrow. Blending modern jazz with French Surrealism, Thomas Pynchon’s rocket science with the odyssey of James Joyce, Henri Lefebvre’s Marxism with the street ballets of Jane Jacobs, this challenging book appears at a timely moment in our fraught political history and opens up an urgent humanist conversation about the future of city life.

What people are saying about Andy Merrifield….

“Andy Merrifield is original, erudite, politically alive and readable.”

John Berger

Andy Merrifield partakes of the grand tradition of political literary criticism.

Publishers Weekly

Andy Merrifield is an independent scholar and author of a dozen books including, most recently, Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading “Capital” in Precarious Times. He has written numerous articles, essays and reviews appearing in Monthly Review, The Nation, Harper’s Magazine, New Left Review, The Guardian, Literary Hub, Jacobin, and Dissent. He is a prolific writer about urbanism, political theory and literature, with titles credited to him including Dialectical Urbanism, The New Urban Question, and Magical Marxism. In addition to intellectual biographies of Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, and John Berger, he has also published a popular existential travelogue, The Wisdom of Donkeys, a manifesto for liberated living, The Amateur, and a memoir about cities and love inspired by Raymond Carver’s short stories, called What We Talk About When We Talk About Cities (and Love).

Format Clear

Publication Date: 06/01/2023

Number of Pages: 208

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68590-012-0

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-68590-013-7

eBook ISBN: 978-1-68590-014-4