Origin, Structure and Meaning, with Portes and Armony

Origin, structure and meaning

Alejandro Doors

Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Princeton University
Research Professor of Law and Distinguished Researcher of Arts and Sciences, University of Miami

Ariel C. Armony

Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs
Director of the University Center for International Studies
University of Pittsburgh

Some cities, including New York, London and Tokyo, have been identified as “global cities”, whose function in the global economy transcends national boundaries. Without the same fanfare, once-peripheral and secondary cities have risen to prominence, emerging as global cities in their own right. The striking similarity of the skylines of Dubai, Miami and Singapore is no coincidence: although they have followed different historical paths, all three have gained new importance through parallel trends.

Using their groundbreaking research, Alejandro Portes and Ariel C. Armony demonstrate how the rapid and unexpected rise of these three cities is reshaping global urban studies. They identify the constellation of factors that allow certain urban places to become “emerging global cities” – centers of commerce, finance, art and culture for entire regions. The book traces the transformations of Dubai, Miami and Singapore, identifying key common characteristics of these emerging global cities. He contrasts them with “global hopefuls”, cities that have at one time or another aspired to go global, and analyzes how Hong Kong is threatened with losing this status. Portes and Armony highlight the importance of climate change to the prospects of emerging global cities, showing how the same economic system that propelled their rise is now jeopardizing their future. Their study provides a powerful new framework for understanding the role of edge cities in the global economy and how they compete for and sometimes achieve global position.

Time will be allocated for questions and answers.

This program is part of the ColumbiaDC mug series.


“Emerging Global Cities sets a new standard for the comparative study of cities. Combining historical analysis, political economy, demography, and institutional analysis with a deep understanding of the global economic division of labor, the authors produce a set of captivating profiles of success, the also-rans and the precarious, and placing them all within a compelling theoretical framework.” Paul DiMaggio, New York University

Alejandro Doors is a professor of law and a distinguished scholar of arts and sciences at the University of Miami. He is the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle S. Beck Professor of Sociology (emeritus) and founding director of the Center for Migration and Development at Princeton University. Portes is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and past President of the American Sociological Association. His books include City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami (1993) and Immigrant America: A Portrait (fourth edition, 2014).

Ariel C. Armony is Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs and Director of the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is also a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He was a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Fulbright Scholar at Nankai University, and a Resident Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. His publications include The Dubious Link: Civic Engagement and Democratization (2004) and, with Portes, The Global Edge: Miami in the Twenty-First Century (2018).

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