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The Strange Case of Western Cities: Occult Globalisations and the Making of Urban Modernity

Steve Pile
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Steve Pile: Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK. S.J.Pile@open.ac.uk

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 2, 305-318

Abstract: This paper explores the implications for thinking about Western cities of the argument, within post-colonial studies, that Europe (and, therefore, the West) needs to be provincialised. It is argued that Western cities might also be successfully provincialised. The example of the occult is used to show: first, how distinctions between the West and the rest of the world have been drawn; secondly, to reveal how magical beliefs and practices circulate through Western cities, exposing occult globalisations that do not necessarily begin or end in the West; and, thirdly, to unsettle the prevalent assumption that Western cities are untouched by magic. Having tracked the occult globalisations that flow (in time and space) through Western cities, it is concluded that it is vital to provincialise the West both by placing it within older and wider patterns of knowledge and power and, additionally, by paying close attention to the magic of modern city life.

Date: 2006
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