Global cities of the South : Mexico City and Johannesburg in an era of globalisation
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The global city discourse posits a new role for cities in light of increased economic integration and the rise of a global economy. Firms are increasingly investing capital in locations where profits are anticipated to be highest, creating a geographic dispersal of economic activity. As a result, the central command functions of firms – management, coordination, servicing, and financing of vast networks of operations – have become more complex and strategic. Firms thus outsource a portion of their central command functions to specialised service firms. Specialised service firms tend towards high levels of agglomeration and concentrate in a small number of locations, giving rise to command and control centres of the global economy or global cities. Cities of the South are increasingly fulfilling global city functions, yet are generally approached through a developmentalist framework. The global city discourse places salience on specialised services and exhibits a Western bias. This study develops an alternative analytical framework that recognises an array of activities and processes, across three spheres of globalisation – markets, mafias, and movements – that contribute to the global connectivity of cities. In this way the role of cities of the South in the global economy is better understood. This study focuses on Mexico City and Johannesburg as global cities of the South. What the research uncovers is that these cities fulfil many global city functions and are amongst the best connected cities in their respective regions in terms of their ability to service global capital through growing specialised service sectors. In this way Mexico City and Johannesburg emerge as global cities of the South that integrate large geographical areas, populations, and sub-global economies with the global economy. This study also illustrates that the way in which global cities are conceptualised limits the extent to which the concept can be applied in Southern context. Global cities of the South service far less global capital because of the nature of core/semi-periphery/periphery relations and underdevelopment, the role they fulfil in the global economy is, however, no less critical than that of global cities of the core. This study therefore proposes thinking of global cities as constituent units of a global urban network, garnering certain power by occupying a particular niche constitutive of the whole network.