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Contradictions of capitalism and the new urban question: David Harvey and Andy Merrifield

Leading social theorists visit Birkbeck

Thursday 3 April, 6:30pm – 8pm
B01, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1

On Thursday 3 April 2014, Birkbeck’s Department of Politics will be hosting leading social theorists David Harvey and Andy Merrifield in conversation about the contradictions of capitalism and the new urban question.

Andy Merrifield, Supernumerary Fellow in Human Geography (Cambridge), will present the main arguments of his new book The New Urban Question. The book traces the connections between radical urban theory and political activism. He sets out his vision of a new global political movement which engages with finance capital to challenge what he describes as the ‘parasitic capitalism’ that has developed since the 1990s and led to highly distorted rental markets and the accumulation of capital by corporate shareholders, even as profits fall. Merrifild explores the city as the setting of new forms of urban struggle such as the Occupy movement and Spain’s indignados and envisages a new form of public life in which cities can become generative again.

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography (City University of New York), will respond to Merrifields arguments, exploring how the new urban question links to his vision of an alternative socioeconomic system, as described in his new book Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism. His book explores the socially-constructed contradictions within capitalism and how they might generate new political and cultural movements.

Following a discussion of the issues raised in the new publications, the session will be opened up for a Q&A session with the audience. The event will be chaired by Dr Alex Colas, a senior lecturer in Birkbeck’s Department of Politics.

Dr Colas said: "Andy Merrifield and David Harvey have independently made huge contributions to the study and democratisation of cities. It's therefore a special privilege to have them come to Birkbeck together and participate in a very important conversation Londoners and others are having. At a time when large chunks of our own city are being socially cleansed for the benefit of domestic and international speculators, we're all talking about what kind of city we want to live in, and the contradictions of capitalism in delivering it."

Booking is essential.

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