Cities and Countryside in Anthropology

  • Anthony Leeds
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (EDPC)


Most current discussion of “urbanism” and “urbanization” can be shown to be ethno- and temporocentric and based on a historically particular class of urban phenomena and urban forms of integration. Exegesis of text after text—whether produced by persons ostensibly doing “pure,” “objective,” descriptive, or “basic” science, or engaged in some form of application—shows systematic orientations whose axiomatic presuppositions and logical consequences can be clearly laid out as emanations of a specific world view.


Urban Form Capitalist Society World City Urban Place Urban Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    See Emmanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century ( New York: Academic Press, 1974 ).Google Scholar
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    See V. G. Childe, Man Makes Himself and “The Urban Revolution.” The endings -ism and -ization,added to the root urban,both have specific sets of connotations, none of which mean precisely “having the properties of being urban.” Urbanism sometimes seems to mean that, but it also means rather unclearly defined things such as “attitudes about cities,”Google Scholar
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    policies with respect to cities,“ etc Urbanization means, usually, ”the process of city population growth“ or, sometimes, much more widely, ”the process of becoming citylike or graced with towns and cities.“ I use the Urban here to indicate ”that which is urban, having the properties of being an urban society,“) borrowed from the Spanish el Urbano,which is fairly commonly used with the meaning I define. ”J. B. Birdsell, “Some Environmental and Cultural Factors Influencing the Structuring of Australian Aboriginal Populations,” American Naturalist 87 (1953): 169–207; see also !Kung Bushmen material or A. Leeds, “Some Problems in Yaruro Ethnohistory,” in Actas y Memorias del 35° Congreso Internacional de Americanistas,Mexico, 1962 (México, D. F.; 1964): 157–175. Google Scholar
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    These are clearly urban centers, at least in the sense of this chapter. Each is a central place, with a central administration. Each has a remarkable array of specializations and specialists. Each is itself a specialized nucleation with a specialized function in the larger society, and a nodal point for exchange and transfer, as of taxes and foodstuffs. Each is hierarchic, class-divided, and institutionally complex. Each has its literate system of complex record keeping, ranging from censuses to production and tax figures. Each is a substate of a more inclusive state. See, in this connection, Abbot Irminon (ca. 800 A.D.), “The Polyptich of Saint Germain des Prés” (trans. from A. Longnon, Polyptique de l’Abbaye Saint-Germain des Prés, II) (Paris, 1892), in Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West, Vol. 1 ed. Contemporary Civilization Staff, Columbia College (New York: Columbia, 1946), 34–38; Louis the Pious (ca. 795 A.D.), “Capitulare de Villis,” from Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Leges II, 1 (1883) (trans. in Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West), Vol. 1, 25–33; J. Mundy and P. Riseneberg, The Medieval Town (Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1948); H. Pirenne, Medieval Cities (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Anchor, 1956 originally published, 1925 ).Google Scholar
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    A. O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study in the History of an Idea ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1937 ).Google Scholar
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    See residues of this conception in the idea of `the body politic’ and in British functionalism’s organicism; cf. A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, “On the Concept of Function in Social Science,” in Structure and Function in Primitive Society: Essays and Addresses (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1952).Google Scholar
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    John of Salisbury, “The Body Social,” in The Portable Medieval Reader [12th century], ed. J. B. Ross and M. M. McLaughlin ( New York: Viking, 1949 ), pp. 47–48.Google Scholar
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    See P. Hall, The World Cities.Google Scholar
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    J. Gottman, Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1961).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    See A. Leeds, “Capitalism, Colonialism, and War—An Evolutionary Perspective,” in War: Its Causes and Correlates, ed. M. A. Nettleship and D. Givens ( The Hague: Mouton, 1975 ): pp. 483–513.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    See Special Issue: “Social Urbanization in Latin America,” ed. Luise Margolies and R. H. Lavenda, Urban Anthropology 8 (Nos. 3 and 4; Winter, 1979 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Leeds
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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