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Polish urban trajectories in the context of global capitalist development

Time period: 2015-2018
Financing: National Science Centre

This is a global analysis of consecutive urbanization waves in Poland over the last thousand years. It combines three influential yet distinct intellectual traditions: “world-systems” analysis (as pioneered by F. Braudel, I. Wallerstein, or A.G. Frank), comparative urban studies (D. Harvey, N. Smith, M. Castells, J. Holston, A.M. Simone, M. Davis) and non-occidental global history (J. Goody, K. Pomeranz, D. Graeber, E. Wolf, S. Mintz, J. Abu-Lughod). The book that will come out of this project will be a critical evaluation of the work of Giovanni Arrighi. He argued that global economic history boils down to a succession of four hegemonies: Italian (1450-1650), Dutch (1560-1780), British (1750-1925) and American (1860-2008?). This project will first show the euro-centric shortcomings of Arrighi’s theory and add an analysis of the center-periphery relations that is missing in his work. Poland, a country with a well-documented history, is a good departure point for doing this. Thus we will show how systemic shifts at the “commanding heights” of global capitalism triggered a creative destruction of two Polish “spatial legacies” (the so-called Piast and Jagiellon traditions), as theorized by the geographer A. Piskozub. The book will be provide the international audience with a concise yet broad “glocal” analysis of the relationship between capitalism and urbanization in a comparative and theory-driven perspective.