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Neil Smith

(PhD Johns Hopkins 1982; Dist Prof) Political economy, urban social theory, space, nature-culture, history and theory of geography)

Neil Smith was trained as a geographer and his research explores the broad intersection between space, nature, social theory and history. He teaches in urban anthropology, cultural anthropology and environmental anthropology, and participates actively in the Center for Place Culture and Politics. His environmental work is largely theoretical, focusing on questions of the production of nature. His urban interests include long term research on gentrification, including empirical work in North America and Europe and a series of theoretical papers emphasizing the importance of patterns of investment and disinvestment in the real estate market. He also writes more broadly on New York City, focusing especially on the "revanchist city" which has filled the vacuum left in the wake of liberal urban theory.

His interests in social theory include political economy and Marxism and lie behind his theoretical work on uneven development. From the global to the local scales, he argues, our spatial worlds are constructed and reconstructed as expressions of social relations and especially as expressions of capitalist social relations. Uneven development is in many ways the hallmark of capitalism. More recently he has been studying the "geography of the American Century," trying to understand the ways in which global economic development in the twentieth century -- up to and including so-called globalization -- represent specific expressions of US power and responses to it. This has also led to considerable research on the construction of geographical scale. He co-edits Society and Space and sits on numerous editorial boards including Social Text and Capitalism, Nature, Socialism.

Recent Visiting Appointments

  • Visiting Professor, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Fall 2008

  • Queens University, Belfast, Visiting Professor, March 2005.

  • University of Oregon, Morse Chair Professor at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, Spring 2004.

Recent and Keynote Addresses

  • “For (Political) Climate Change,” Geographing the Future conference, National University of Ireland, Galway, August 24 2010. 

  • “Culture as Diversion, The Politics of Culture”, International Geographical Union Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 2007.

  • “The Endgame of Globalization”, The Inaugural Nordic Geographers Meeting, Lund, Sweden, May 13 2005.

  • “Beyond Global Local”, Reconstituting the U.S., Institute for Critical U.S. Studies, Duke University, February 24-26 2005.

Recent Representative Publications


  • Uneven Development.  Nature, Capital and the Production of Space, Third Edition University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA, 2008

  • The Endgame of Globalization, Routledge, New York, 2005

  • American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization. University of California Press, 2003

  • The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City. Routledge, 1996

  • Articles

  • “The Revolutionary Imperative,” Antipode 41, 2010, 50-65.

  • “Fear, Insecurity, and the Canadian City,” in Bunting, T and Filion, P, eds. Canadian Cities in Transition, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2010, 293-306 (with Deborah Cowen and Amy Siciliano).

  • “Toxic Capitalism,” New Political Economy 14, 2009, 407-412.

  • “The Imperial Present: Liberalism Has Always Been Conservative,” Geopolitics 13, 2008, 736-739.

  • “The Evolution of Gentrification,” 66 East, 2008.

  • “”Class, State, Violence,” Anthropologica 50, 2008.

  • “Comment: Neo-liberalism -- Dominant but dead," Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology 51, 2008, 155-157.

  • “After Geopolitics? From the Geopolitical Social to Geoeconomics,” Antipode 40, 2009, 22-48 (with Deborah Cowen)

  • “Review Essay: David Harvey: A Critical Reader,” Progress in Human Geography, 32:1, 2008, 147-155.

  • “On ‘The Eviction of Critical Perspectives,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 32:1, 2008, 195-197.

  • “Revanchist City, Revanchist Planet,” Reflect #06, 2007, 30-42.