Urban and Urbanization

Planetary urbanization and totality

This paper begins with the accusation of “totalization” that has been directed at Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid’s concept of “planetary urbanization.” In so doing, it first critiques the meanings typically attributed to “totality” and “totalization” by Brenner and Schmid as well as their critics, and then explicates the concepts of totality and totalization developed in the tradition of Hegelian Marxism, especially in the works of Georg Lukács, Jean-Paul Sartre, Henri Lefebvre, and Fredric Jameson. Following a review of some influential invocations of Hegelian or Marxist conceptions of totality in anti-colonial and socialist–feminist politics, the paper concludes by arguing that participants in the contentious planetary urbanization debate can best address their substantive concerns by working through instead of disavowing the concept of totality—especially the version of it proposed by Lefebvre, involving state and capital, “the urban” and the everyday.

more articles from

Volume 36 Issue 3

Explore our Topics

Though not an exhaustive list, these are many of the main areas we cover.