The Global City:
People, Production, and Planning in the Third World

(City and Regional Planning: CRP 101)

Ben Kohl
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York, USA

Spring 2001
This course is also available online at

Note: Syllabus is subject to change
(See below for Ben Kohl's Comments On Teaching This Course).

Course Description
This course provides an introduction to international urban studies, focusing on Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We begin with basic questions about the nature of cities and different approaches to studying cities and urbanization. We then explore factors driving urban growth and how this growth affects urban environments. We then examine questions of social organization and governance. In the final section of the course we address topics related to planning and the future of the city.

We meet for two lectures and one section per week.

Alan Gilbert and Josef Gugler, Cities, Poverty and Development: Urbanization in the Third World, 2nd ed., 1992, and a reading packet, available at KC Copy. We will place a copy of The City Reader as well as copies of the individual chapters on reserve in the Fine Arts Library.

Optional Texts
URS students should buy Richard LeGates and Frederic Stout, The City Reader, 2nd ed., 2000.
All students should have a writing guide. I have ordered Jan Venolia, Wright Right, for those of you who do not already have a guide you like.

Expectations and Evaluation

We expect you will do all the readings and attend all lectures and sections. As we are a relatively large class, we will also have a web-based classroom discussion board for your comments and questions on readings, lectures, and sections. Your contributions to the discussion board will contribute to your grade on participation. We will often give 'quizzes' to see how you interpret the major concepts from the readings and the lectures. In addition, we will assign two short papers, an in-class midterm, a take-home final, and a course review and evaluation. We will not accept late assignments.

  • 20%   Attendance at lectures, contributions to the discusion board, and participation in sections
  • 10%   In-class quizzes
  • 20%   In-class midterm
  • 20%   Short papers (10% each)
  • 25%   Final take-home exam
  •   5%   In-class evaluation and course review
Become familiar with the website ( During the first three weeks of class please 'enroll' in the class website. We will not do this for you. If you are not familiar with the use of "CourseInfo" please let us know.



We define the scope of the course. Why are we interested in cities and urbanization? Are cities becoming more alike? How can we study cities? How are cities in ‘developing’ countries different from those in ‘developed’ countries?
Key words: urban, urbanization, urbanism.

Review syllabus, urban, urbanization, and urbanism
(Monday, January 22)
  • Alan Gilbert and Josef Gugler, Cities, "Introduction," pp. 1-13 in Cities, Poverty and Development: Urbanization in the Third World, 1992 (Gilbert and Gugler)
What is urbanization and how can we study it? Cities as things, cities as processes.
(Wednesday, January 24)
Read Harvey's piece closely. What does he mean when he writes of a 'process thing' relationship?
  • David Clark, "Global Patterns and Perspectives," pp. 1-11, in Urban World/Global City, 1996
  • David Harvey, "Contested Cities: Social process and spatial form," pp. 19-27, in N. Jewson and S. McGregor, eds., Transforming Cities: Contested Governance and New Spatial Divisions, 1997
  • Mumford, Lewis "What is a City?" pp. 92-96 in Richard LeGates and Frederic Stout, The City Reader, in 2nd ed., 2000 (LeGates and Stout)
Sections.  Introductions and interests
(Friday, January 26)
Understanding Cities in Developing Countries Cities in developing countries share many of the same characteristics as those in developed countries. They are centers of economic and social processes that affect areas well beyond their borders. Yet they also are fundamentally different from cities in richer countries. What do we mean when we talk about developed and underdeveloped countries?
Keywords: development, underdevelopment, dependent urbanization, colonialism

Dependency and Dependent Urbanization
(Monday, January 29)
  • Frank, Andre Gunder, "The Development of Underdevelopment," pp. 17-31, Monthly Review 18(4), 1966
  • Hymer, Stephen, "Robinson Crusoe and the Secret of Primitive Accumulation," pp. 11-36, Monthly Review, September, 1971
Video: Children of the Miracle
(Wednesday, January 31)
This video provides a window into the lives of the urban poor in Brazil, the country with the 10th largest economy in the world. How do the images compare with Engels’ description of life for the British working class?
  • Frederich Engels "The Great Towns," pp. 46-53, in Richard LeGates and Frederic Stout, The City Reader, 1996
  • Gilbert and Gugler, "Urban Development in a World System," pp. 14-32
Early Cities
(Friday, February 2) Section
Cities existed before the industrial revolution. Then, as now, developments in urban design occurring in one part of the world affected what happened in other parts of the world.

Early Cities
(Monday, February 4)
  • Gilbert and Gugler, "Urban Agglomeration and Regional Disparities," pp. 33-61
Early Cities
(Wednesday, February 6)
  • Jacques Gernet, "Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion: 1250-1276," in Janet Abu-Lughod and Richard Hay, Jr., eds. "Introduction," pp. 1-13, in Third World Urbanization, 1977
(Friday, February 9)
Hand out first assignment, due Feb. 16 (3-4 pages).

NOTE: This is the last day to add a class or a section. Please be sure you are enrolled.



Changes in the population of a city are the answer to the following equation:

(births + immigration) - (deaths + emigration)

In developing countries rural to urban migration accounts for about 40% of urban growth. The other 60% of urban population growth come from natural increase (births-deaths). Some of the rapid growth of cities is also due to improved health and public services (water and sewerage). Birth rates in Europe have fallen below replacement levels and immigrants, often from developing countries, are beginning to decline, which will lead to aging populations and a new set of problems for urban centers. Aging populations in developed countries have demanded labor that has led to increases in transnational migration.
Keywords: urban bias, migration, remittances, demographic transition

Urban Bias
(Monday, February 12)
  • Lipton, Michael, "Why Poor People Stay Poor: Urban Bias in World Development," pp. 40-51 in The Urbanization of the Third World, Josef Gugler, ed., 1st ed., 1988
  • Gilbert and Gugler, "The Urban-Rural Interface and Migration," pp. 62-86
(Wednesday, February 14)
  • Nigel Harris, "The Sweated Trades in Developing Countries," pp. 56-84, in The New Untouchables: Immigration and the New World Worker, 1995
Sections.  Urban Economies
(Friday, February 16)
First assignment due.
Keywords: formal and informal economy, globalization


Uneven urban development
(Monday, February 19)
  • Mike Savage and Alan Warde, "Cities and Uneven Economic Development," pp. 264-77, in LeGates and Stout
  • Gibert and Gugler, "The Urban Labour-Market." pp. 87-113
Formal and informal sector
(Wednesday, February 21)
  • Manuel Castells and Alejandro Portes, "World Underneath: the Origins, Dynamics and Effects of the Informal Economy," in A. Portes, M. Castells, and L. Benton, The Informal Economy: Studies in Advanced and Less Developed Countries, 1989
Section. Informal Sector
(Friday, February 23)
  • Lea Jellinek, "Displaced by Modernity: The Saga of a Jakarta Street-Trader’s Family from the 1940s to the 1990s," pp. 139-155, in Josef Gugler, ed. Cities in the Developing World, 2nd ed., 1997


(Monday, February 26)
  • Gibert and Gugler, "The Housing of the Urban Poor," pp. 114-54
Video.  "On Borrowed Land"
(Wednesday, February 28)
Reading to be added.

Housing And Segregation
(Friday, March 2)



(Monday, March 5)
  • Jonas Rabinovitch and Josef Leitman, "Urban Planning in Curitiba," pp. 46-53, Scientific American, March 1996
  • Eduardo Vasconcellos, "The Making of the Middle Class City: Transportation policy in Sao Paulo," pp. 293-310, Environment and Planning A, v. 29
(Wednesday, March 7)
  • Stephen Graham and Simon Marvin, "The Transformation of Cities," pp. 568-78, in LeGates and Stout
(Friday, March 9)


Urban Environment
(Monday, March 12)
  • "Let Them Eat Pollution," Feb. 15, pp. 17-9, The Economist 1992
  • Alexander Stille, "The Ganges' Next Life," pp. 58-67, The New Yorker, Jan. 19, 1998
  • Kirk Smith and Yok-Shui Lee, "Urbanization and the environmental Risk Transition," pp. 161-179, in John Kasarda and Alan Powell, Third World Cities, Problem, Policies and Prospects, 1993
(Wednesday, March 14)

(Friday, March 16)
  • Opadawala and Goldmsith, "The Sustainability of Privilege, Reflections on the Environment, the Third World City, and Poverty," pp. 627-40, World Development, 20(4)
(MARCH 17-25)



(Monday, March 26)
Reading to be added.
  • T. H. Marshall, "Citizenship and Social Class," pp. 93-111, in Gershon Shair, ed. The Citizenship Debates, 1998
Street kids
(Wednesday, March 28)
  • Scheper-Hughes "Street Kids," Worldview, pp. 15-24, 10(1)
  • Gilbert and Gugler, "Social Organization in the City," pp. 155-176
(Friday, March 30)

International Institutions and Urban Policy
(Monday, April 2)
Reading to be added.
  • John Williamson, "The Washington Consensus," pp. 1329-36, World Development, 21(18)
International Institutions and Urban Policy
(Wednesday, April 4)
Reading to be added.

(Friday, April 6)


Participatory budgeting
(Monday, April 9)
  • Rebecca Abers, "From Ideas to Practice," pp. 35-53, Latin American Perspectives, 23(4) 1996
Decentralization and planning
(Wednesday, April 11)
Reading to be added.
  • Ben Kohl, "Decentralization and Privatization in Bolivia," 2000, photocopy
(Friday, April 13)


Social Movements
(Monday, April 16)
  • Amy Lind, "Gender, Development and Urban Social Change: Women's Community Action in Global Cities," pp. 1205-23, World Development, 25(8)
  • Gilbert and Gugler, "Pattern of Political Integration and Conflict," pp. 177-219
Social Movements
(Wednesday, April 18)
  • Castells, Manuel, "Squatters and the State," pp. 338-66, in Gugler, ed. 1st. ed.
  • Vivienne Bennett, "Gender, Class and Water: The Role of Women in the Protests over Water," pp. 106-27, in The Politics of Water, 1995
(Friday, April 20)
Hand out assignment two, due April 27 (3-4 pages).



(Monday, April 23)
  • Lisa Peattie, "The Production of False Consciousness," pp. 153-71, in Planning: Rethinking Ciudad Guayana, 1987
  • James Scott, "The High-Modernist City: An Experiment and a Critique," pp. 103-146, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, 1998
(Wednesday, April 25)
  • Gilbert and Gugler, "Urban and Regional Systems: A Suitable Case for Treatment?" pp. 220-62
(Friday, April 27)
Second assignment due


Panel discussion on urban futures.  TBA.
(Monday, April 30)

  • David Clark, "Urban Futures," pp. 579-589, in LeGates and Stout
Panel discussion on urban futures. Part II.  TBA.
(Wednesday, May 2)

(Friday, May 4)
In-class evaluation exercise.
Note: The exercise in this class will account for 5% of your grade.

Ben Kohl's Comments On Teaching This Course
This course is the second course of a two semester introductory sequence for undergraduate students in Urban Studies. This course meets twice a week as a lecture course with about 50 students and once a week in discussion sections with 16 students. About 60% of the students are from Urban Studies, with the remainder coming from across the university, using the class to fulfill general distribution requirements.

The course presented here requires students to read 100 pages a week of demanding material and was successful as designed only because of the caliber of the students. In many universities the reading might be more appropriate for an intermediate course. The students complained about the text by Alan Gilbert and Josef Gugler, Cities, Poverty And Development: Urbanization In The Third World, 2nd ed., 1992, and I don't think I would use it again. Unfortunately, I haven't found a text I like better and would welcome other suggestions.

Syllabus copyright ©2001 Ben Kohl. All rights reserved.
Permission to copy and use under "fair use" in education is granted, provided proper credit is given.