Wednesday, May 20, 2009

UdeMan: Mike Davis

American writer, professor, activist, historian, scholar, urbanist, trucker, meat-cutter.

His book "Monster at Our Door" describes the path of the next (or current?) flu pandemic, and addresses the intertwined health and political issues inherent in any viral storm.

His best-known book, "Planet of Slums", generated both acclaim and controversy for its bold analysis of the global, poor, urban cities proliferating in our time.

A self-described "Marxist-Environmentalist", Davis refuses to accept the easy assurance that the poor can lift themselves up, when regimes are corrupt and the food riots begin. Sometimes criticized as bleak and overly apocalyptic, I find Mike an open-eyed realist and a good counterargument to the "technology will save us" train of thought.

Davis doesn't say the urban situation is hopeless, he tells us why gangs have replaced government in the running of entire sections of difficult, complex and rapidly polarizing rich/poor cities.

I'm such a fan that I will offer him my first-born to mentor and mo
ld. (Son happens to be an Urban Studies major.)

Mike, mentor him in your firebrand politics and superb research and writing skills, impart your vision of a world disabused by bland assurances that technology or economics will rescue billions.

Mike Davis lives in San Diego, has taught at the Southern California School of Architecture, and has written 15 books. Married to the Mexican artist Allesandra Moctezuma, Davis has four children.

7 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

Adding to my reading list, thanks for the recommendation!

see you there! said...

Wow! He's going right to the top of my Need-to-Read!

I'm going a bit at a time through "Confessions of an eco-sinner: tracking down the sources of my stuff" by Fred Pearce. You or your son might like that.

Darla

Anonymous said...

You want your son to be "molded" by a global Marxist revolutionary? A man for whom the likes of Jane Jacobs and Martin Luther King are too far to the right?

It is difficult to understand how this fits with your touting of $5,000 gold chains from Bergdorf Goodman.

lagatta à montréal said...

You might be interested in some of the writings of Ian Angus, another ecosocialist thinker closer by, in Eastern Ontario (he lives on a farm near Ontario).

Anonymous, shouldn't we treasure our contradictions? A love of beautiful things in no way contradicts a thirst for global justice. Think the son of Duchesse and Le Duc is probably capable of thinking for himself.

I know most of us write under web handles, but it is a pity to be "anonymous" as it means people cannot properly reply.

Duchesse said...

Anonymous: While I am not in agreement with all of Davis' ideas, I appreciate the quality of his thought, research and scholarship. I also appreciate beautifully made objects, and do not have any difficulty accommodating the two interests.

seeyouthere: Thas for the addition to my book list!

lagatta à montréal said...

near OTTAWA, I mean. Serves me right for trying to post while looking up the French equivalents of North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) /Système de classification des industries de l'Amérique du Nord (SCIAN) Industry Codes for the forestry and related sectors...

Duchesse said...

lagatta: Thanks, I will look for Ian Angus' work. And yes, Etienne can think for himself. We went though a period when Mike Davis would have been a bit small-c conservative for that kid!