Chew Jetty in Malaylsia’s George Town attracts tourists by the boatload. Historic homes are now commercial stalls branded with neon signs; one-time fishermen peddle T-shirts, magnets and postcards. The daily intrusion has clearly taken a toll: windows are boarded, “no photo” signs are pervasive, and tenants quickly vanish at the sight of a foreign face.
The cultural capital of Kandy – controversial location for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – survived Sri Lanka’s civil war relatively intact. Now it’s thriving, thanks in no small part to an infamous relic: one of the Buddha’s teeth.
Nicholas Cull discusses the growing role of city diplomacy and the emergence of the global city.
Cities are the primary building block of organized human existence. The concept of civilization – as its etymology suggests – rests on the phenomenon of the city and its distinctiveness from life lived beyond its walls. There has always been a powerful identification between a city and an individual inhabitant. It is the oldest bond in organized politics and hence appropriate that the term “citizen” should have been shared with the larger scale polities as they have emerged.
As urban populations in cities grow their global influence expands as well. This week, PD News highlights the trend of cities conducting their own foreign policy.
The most important characteristic of the 21st century is the rise of cities. The world may obsess over whether a “Chinese century” is replacing an American one. But the real action is not in nations — but in their urban centres.