"Vertical housing has transmuted in a generation into a movement of the elites into super-expensive condo towers."
Cities around the world are now segregated by height, with the world's wealthiest living at the highest points. It's a new form of class war from above, the politics around which are under-explored.
In this edited extract from Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers, Steve Graham looks at how the geography of inequality, politics, and identity is playing out in our increasingly vertical and unequal cities.
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This housing crisis has deep political and economic roots—requiring a more radical response than ever before. Familiarise yourself with the geography of inequality, politics, and identity with these books on our modern cities.
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This piece first appeared in NACLA.
Calle San Rafael, Havana. August 2016. via Wikimedia Commons.
Olga, a former University teacher, remembered her faithful devotion to Fidel Castro when she was growing up in Santiago more than forty years ago. “Before the triumph of the Revolution I went to a Baptist private school. After I went to a state school, and I grew disenchanted with religion. This happened not only to me, it happened to my entire generation,” she said. “The change was profound. Fidel replaced the God we had believed in. He was a very significant leader for everyone, but in particular for us of the younger generation. We threw ourselves into the struggle to make the revolution. Life was very difficult after the sugar harvest of 1970 failed. We suffered a lot, but we still had that belief, that determination, that we had to fight for the revolution. We thought of Fidel as our God the saviour, and we all closed ranks, and we struggled, and we tried not to see his errors, his flaws. I did not return to the church for many, many years."
I first interviewed Olga (not her real name) twelve years ago, when, alongside a team of Cuban and British researchers, I began recording life histories of Cuban men and women living on the island. Olga and I last met several months ago, in Miami, where she now lives. Our team has collected the life histories of 125 Cubans from different generations, social positions and political views, of diverse racial, gender, sexual and religious identities. Many talked with us multiple times, recounting how their lives and attitudes have changed over the years.