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Über dieses Buch

This book seeks to deepen readers’ understanding of world history by investigating urbanization and the evolution of urban systems, as well as the urban world, from the perspective of historical analysis. The theoretical framework of the approach stems directly from space-economy, and, more generally, from location theory and the theory of urban systems.
The author explores a certain logic to be found in world history, and argues that this logic is spatial (in terms of spatial inertia, spatial trends, attractive and repulsive forces, vector fields, etc.) rather than geographical (in terms of climate, precipitation, hydrography). Accordingly, the book puts forward a truly original vision of urban world history, one that will benefit economists, historians, regional scientists, and anyone with a healthy curiosity.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
In 1997 and 1998, two books became best sellers. The first one, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, was written by Jared Diamond, and it won a Pulitzer Prize. The book’s basic premise was that “history followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.” The second book was written by David S. Landes, and it bore the title The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor. In contrast to Diamond, Landes believes that Max Weber was right and that the history of economic development demonstrates that culture makes the difference. As for geography, he tended to minimize its influence by deriding the French geographer Edmond Demolins who claimed that, if the history of the world were to start over again in a context where the surface of the earth remained unchanged, it would follow the same broad lines.
Luc-Normand Tellier

From the Beginnings of Agriculture and Urbanization to the First Urbexplosions

Abstract
Urbanization had several cradles. It was preceded by the emergence of agriculture, transportation networks, and pre-urban cities, which developed in isolation without being part of a structured urban system. The development of transportation networks caused urbanization in a much more direct way than agriculture did. “Urban cities” (belonging to a structured urban system) first developed in Mesopotamia within the Great Corridor; second, in the Indus Valley, at the intersection of the Great and Asian corridors; and third, in the Loess Plateau of China within the Asian Corridor. An urbexplosion is an organic urban system that evolves through time and space in order to progressively include peripheral zones belonging to various regions, provinces, or countries. The first urbexplosion emerged in the Great Corridor; it was dominated by Babylon. Pre-Columbian urbanization appeared later in a context characterized by the absence of wheeled transportation.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Understanding the First Urban Revolution

Abstract
Space-economy provides some explanations of the first urban revolution. The main one stems from the strong polarizing effect of the development of transportation networks, whose critical points favor a regrouping of people and activities. A second explanation relates to the existence of breaking points (or points of discontinuity) in a continuous space, or in some segments of a network. Such breaking points are often associated with transshipment costs; this has important consequences, as far as locations are concerned. A third explanation is given by the central place theory, and the need to provide certain goods and services to agricultural regions in an effective way. A fourth explanation is offered by the network–systems theory, which insists on the fact that cities play a major role in the expansion of urban systems and urbexplosions as outpost settlements in the peripheral regions surrounding expanding urban systems. Finally, agglomeration economies have played a role, but that factor may have been exaggerated.
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Two First Economy-Worlds: The Roman and Chinese Empires

Abstract
Two economy-worlds have dominated Eurasia for centuries, the Roman and Chinese ones. Rome rose as a big dominant city before manifesting any imperialist purposes. The Mediterranean Sea was the heart of the Roman Empire, while its Chinese counterpart was much more continental. Both empires were repeatedly invaded, and, in both cases, some invaders succeeded to take control of parts of the empires, if not their entirety. The Great Corridor has been the spine of the Roman Empire, while the Chinese one has been successively dominated by the Asian, the Great and the Mongolo-American corridors. The Roman Empire never recovered from its collapse, while the Chinese one always was reborn after its disruption. This chapter stresses such similarities and differences between the two major economy-worlds.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Understanding the Urban Evolution Dynamics

Abstract
How do the urban systems evolve? In order to understand this, we must realize that cities are competing with each other. In the context of that competition, their ability to provide effectively municipal services plays a significant role. Attracting inhabitants, firms, learning institutions, research and development establishments, and government offices generates multiplier effects that must be maximized. Finally, the dynamics of urban evolution is marked by the existence of repulsive forces associated with the aging of urban structures, the emergence of urban competitors, and the spatial trends that prevail in a given urban environment.
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Great Ebb: Islam Out to Conquer the Great and the Asian Corridors

Abstract
West of the Persian Gulf, the history of urbanization was dominated by a northwestward trend going from Mesopotamia to Phoenicia, Greece, and Italy. That wave stopped at the northern limit of Brittany, and it was followed by a Big Ebb characterized by a southeastern movement associated with the fall of Rome, the rise of Islam, the emergence of the Baghdad urbexplosion, and the progression of Islam up to China and Indonesia within the Great and the Asian corridors. The expansion of Islam was first dominated by the Arabs, second by local dynasties, third by Turko-Mongol invaders, and, finally, by peaceful merchants. During that long period, the Western world was supplanted by the Moslem one.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Understanding Topodynamic Inertia

Abstract
Many factors and theories can explain topodynamic inertia: the spreading of agriculture practices and crops, the diffusion of industrialization, the evolution of socio-economic inequalities, and the cumulative process of location choices. From a theoretical point of view, a good explanation may stem from the interaction between potentiality and reality, and the maximum likelihood link that may exist between the movements of the center of gravity, of the comprehensive Weber optimum, and of the maximum gravity potential. There is at least one studied case where such a link is deterministic: that of a population diffusion process originating from some point of maximum population density located at the limit of a continent (the so-called New York case). Topodynamic inertia plays a role at many scales: in metropolitan and city development, in the development of urbexplosions, as well as at the world level. That being said, it is not totally predictable. Bifurcations and catastrophes may occur.
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Great Ebb: Europe’s Fight for Survival

Abstract
The fall of the Western Roman Empire was followed by a dark period of regression and a critical decline of the European urban system. However, it is in that long epoch of the Middle Ages that the future Renaissance grew its roots thanks to the survival of the Byzantine Empire, the rise of Russia, the Spanish Reconquista, the resurrection of the Italian urbexplosion, the forming of France, the expansion of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, and the emergence of a Northern Europe urbexplosion. Thus, a new northwestward trend developed in Europe in the wake of the Great Ebb.
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Discovery of America and the Return in Strength of the Occident

Abstract
The northwestward trend that was emerging in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages was boosted by the discovery of America. Geographical factors contributed to the fact that this discovery was made by Europeans instead of North African or Chinese navigators. Due to the dominance of the Great Corridor, despite the historical advance of Spain and Portugal, the colonization of the American continent ended up benefiting much more northwestern than southern cities of Europe. The opening of the St. Gotthard Pass strengthened the spine of the Great Corridor, and this ultimately benefited Amsterdam and London that became the dominant cities of the merchant core of the rising European economy. Around that core three major territorial states asserted themselves: Spain, France, and Austria. The European colonization of America started in the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, and in Central and South America. Surprisingly, the American Corridor, which ended up dominating the world, emerged north of Mexico.
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Advent of Motorized Transportation and the Second Urban Revolution

Abstract
Liberalism preceded the Industrial Revolution, which preceded the advent of motorized transportation that triggered the second urban revolution. Southern England, and, more generally, Great Britain were the epicenter of the industrial and urban revolutions. The “Big Bang” propagated from London in the Great Corridor toward the southeast, in the Asian Corridor toward the east, and in the American Corridor toward the east and west. In the Great Corridor, the wave stemming from London reached Tokyo after passing by the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Iran, India, and China. In Africa and Asia, that wave took mainly the form of the British and French colonization. It especially opened up the interior of Sub-Saharan Africa to external influences, while, in Asia, it was first associated with a major economic regression.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Understanding the Impact of Motorized Transportation

Abstract
The impact of introducing motorized transportation has been so big that explanations have to found in space-economy. The part of that discipline called location theory provides good answers by stressing the radical consequences of moving from animal transportation, which involves increasing marginal transportation costs, to relay transportation involving constant marginal transportation costs and to motorized transportation involving decreasing marginal transportation costs. It can be proven that animal transportation favors the dispersal of economic activities, while motorized transportation makes polarization almost inevitable. However, a theoretical question remains: In order to get polarization, there must exist a minimal level of space-friction; however, history has shown that the more transportation costs decreased and space-friction was overcome, the more the magnitude of the attractive forces decreased, and the more they decreased, the more polarization and urbanization triumphed, which is a true paradox. Seven explanations of that important paradox are hereby presented.
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Age of Automobile and the Triumph of the American Corridor

Abstract
Motorized transportation boosted world urbanization and triggered the rise to prominence of the American Corridor both in Eurasia with the ascent of Northern Germany, Russia, and Japan, and in North America with the triumph of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The Second World War, which had started like the First World War, with a confrontation between, on the one hand, Great Britain and France, and, on the other hand, the German part of Europe, ended up as a battle for the domination of the American Corridor (Great Britain, the USA, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Japan belonging altogether to that corridor). Today, most of the economically dominant metropolises belong to the American Corridor: Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Moscow, Berlin, London, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Understanding Topodynamic Corridors

Abstract
Topodynamic corridors are not magical, pedagogical devices, or fatalities. The diffusion of innovations both benefits from the existence of such corridors and strengthens them. The concepts of topodynamic inertia and corridor are neither determinist nor the expression of some kind of magic. One has to distinguish between the notions of “cause” and “form.” Geography does not cause economic development. People do. However, geography guides the spatial form development takes. It shapes and orients it in space mainly because people are mobile, while geography is not. It is not the existence of topodynamic corridors that is surprising, it is rather their inexistence which would be stunning, considering that the true basis of economic development lies on the intensity of the economic flows, and that those flows are clearly channeled.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Poles and Routes Through History

Abstract
Words are useful because they are abstract, but their very abstraction makes them tricky. Contemporary cities correspond very little to what Sumerian cities were. Modern networks have little in common with the first trails and roads. Looking back at the urban world history leads to wonder about the meaning of urban concepts throughout history. In retrospect, how can we characterize the evolution of city locations, city shapes, communication networks, and centrality? How cities can be categorized? What about the evolution of the location of the various urban activities in the city? Are European and North American cities as different as some analysts have said? Finally, are developed and developing cities having the same population really comparable?
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Topodynamic Model: Origin and Fallouts

Abstract
The topodynamic interpretation of the urban world history stems from a reflection that also gave birth to the topodynamic model, and the Urban Metric System. Altogether, the topodynamic theory, the topodynamic model, and the Urban Metric System originate from the Fermat, Weber, and attraction–repulsion problems; the topodynamic theory and the Urban Metric System both use vector field analysis. The originality of the topodynamic model is the fact that it is not econometric, despite it being fundamentally economic. It produces reliable demo-economic projections in a context where general equilibrium is not looked for or assumed to be the natural guide of economic evolution. As for the Urban Metric System, it is conceived to fill the major gap of the absence of a mathematical method to delimit urban areas (central cities, central agglomerations, metropolitan areas, etc.). Its only input is the disaggregated spatial distribution of population, and its outputs are the centers and boundaries of the various urban areas.
Luc-Normand Tellier

The Urban World Future

Abstract
Predicting the future of the urban world at the beginning of the twenty-first century is as hazardous as it was at the beginning of the nineteenth century, before the advent of motorized transportation and the second urban revolution. The future of urbanization depends on the future of the planet, and that future is more uncertain than it has ever been since the emergence of the very first city. This final chapter offers more questions than answers. Those questions relate to the future of topodynamic corridors, population growth, urban sprawl, urban mobility, large city sizes, sea levels, water shortages, and sun belts, given the smallness of humankind confronted with the huge challenges facing it.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Conclusion: The Broad Patterns of History

Abstract
The topodynamic theory is summed up. Polarization and economic development result from a spatiotemporal evolution marked by development trajectories. Economic development is polarized, and it is characterized by the appearance of urbexplosions and economy-worlds including a center constituted of merchant states and city-states, a semi-periphery made of territorial states, and a periphery. The semi-periphery tends to follow a very hierarchical “central place” logic, whereas, the periphery and the relations between the center and the periphery are marked by the tentacular logic of the “network systems.” The spatiotemporal succession of the economy-world centers occurred historically inside three topodynamic corridors. The world evolution is marked by a fundamental phenomenon of “topodynamic inertia.” Topodynamic inertia has an entropic character in the sense that it is fed by the process of disintegration of the old dominant poles. The evolution of urbexplosions is marked by a change in the interplay of attractive and repulsive forces.
Luc-Normand Tellier

Backmatter

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