David Harvey

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David Harvey

David Harvey2.jpg
Born (1935-10-31) 31 October 1935 (age 83)
Nationality British
Alma mater St John's College, Cambridge
Known for Marxist geography, quantitative revolution in geography, critical geography, right to the city,
Time space compression, Accumulation by dispossession
Scientific career
Fields Geography, social theory, political economy
Institutions City University of New York
Thesis Aspects of agricultural and rural change in Kent, 1800–1900 (1961)
Influences Marx, Lefebvre, Engels, Bookchin, Gramsci, Radhakrishnan
Influenced Neil Smith, Andy Merrifield, Erik Swyngedouw, Miguel Robles-Durán, the development of Marxist geography, critical geography and human geography as a discipline

David W. Harvey FBA (born 31 October 1935) is the Distinguished Professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He received his PhD in geography from the University of Cambridge in 1961. Harvey has authored many books and essays that have been prominent in the development of modern geography as a discipline. He is a proponent of the idea of the right to the city.

In 2007, Harvey was listed as the 18th most-cited author of books in the humanities and social sciences in that year, as established by counting cites from academic journals in the Thomson Reuters ISI database.[1] Some of the artists influenced by Harvey's work are Elisheva Levy in Israel and Theaster Gates in Chicago.


David Harvey lecturing a class

Harvey attended Gillingham Grammar School for Boys and St John's College, Cambridge (for both his undergraduate and post-graduate studies). Harvey's early work, beginning with his PhD (on hops production in 19th century Kent), was historical in nature, emerging from a regional-historical tradition of inquiry widely used at Cambridge and in Britain at that time. Historical inquiry runs through his later works (for example on Paris).

Harvey resides in New York. He has a daughter Delfina born in January, 1990.[2]

Life and work

David Harvey at Subversive Festival

By the mid-1960s, Harvey followed trends in the social sciences to employ quantitative methods, contributing to spatial science and positivist theory. Roots of this work were visible while he was at Cambridge: the Department of Geography also housed Richard Chorley, and Peter Haggett. His Explanation in Geography (1969) was a landmark text in the methodology and philosophy of geography, applying principles drawn from the philosophy of science in general to the field of geographical knowledge. But after its publication Harvey moved on again, to become concerned with issues of social injustice and the nature of the capitalist system itself. He has never returned to embrace the arguments made in Explanation, but still he conforms to the critique of absolute space and exceptionalism in geography of the regional-historical tradition that he saw as an outcome of Kantian synthetic a priori knowledge.

Moving from Bristol University to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in the USA, he positioned himself centrally in the newly emerging field of radical and Marxist geography. Injustice, racism, and exploitation were visible in Baltimore, and activism around these issues was tangible in early 1970s East Coast, perhaps more so than in Britain. The journal Antipode was formed at Clark University; Harvey was one of the first contributors. The Boston Association of American Geographers meetings in 1971 were a landmark, with Harvey and others disrupting the traditional approach of their peers. In 1972, in a famous essay on ghetto formation, he argued for the creation of "revolutionary theory", theory "validated through revolutionary practice".

Social Justice and the City (1973) expressed Harvey's position that geography could not remain 'objective' in the face of urban poverty and associated ills. It has been cited widely (over 6600 times, by 2017, in a discipline where 50 citations are rare), and it makes a significant contribution to Marxian theory by arguing that capitalism annihilates space to ensure its own reproduction. Dialectical materialism has guided his subsequent work, notably the theoretically sophisticated Limits to Capital (1982), which furthers the radical geographical analysis of capitalism, and several books on urban processes and urban life have followed it. The Condition of Postmodernity (1989), written while a Professor at Oxford, was a best-seller (the London The Independent named it as one of the fifty most important works of non-fiction to be published since 1945, and it is cited 30,000 times by 2017). It is a materialist critique of postmodern ideas and arguments, suggesting these actually emerge from contradictions within capitalism itself. Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference (1996) focuses on social and environmental justice (although its dialectical perspective has attracted the ire of some Greens). Spaces of Hope (2000) has an utopian theme and indulges in speculative thinking about how an alternative world might look. His study of Second Empire Paris and the events surrounding the Paris Commune in Paris, Capital of Modernity, is undoubtedly his most elaborated historical-geographical work. The onset of US military action since 2001 has provoked a blistering critique – in The New Imperialism (2003) he argues that the war in Iraq allows US neo-conservatives to divert attention from the failures of capitalism 'at home'. His next work, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005), provides an historical examination of the theory and divergent practices of neoliberalism since the mid-1970s. This work conceptualises the neoliberalised global political economy as a system that benefits few at the expense of many, and which has resulted in the (re)creation of class distinction through what Harvey calls "accumulation by dispossession". His book The Enigma of Capital (2010) takes a long view of the contemporary economic crisis. Harvey explains how capitalism came to dominate the world and why it resulted in the financial crisis. He describes that the essence of capitalism is its amorality and lawlessness and to talk of a regulated, ethical capitalism is to make a fundamental error.[3] A series of events linked to this book across London academic forums, such as the LSE, proved hugely popular and sparked a new interest in Harvey's work.

Harvey returned to Johns Hopkins from Oxford in 1993, but spent increasing time elsewhere as a speaker and visitor, notably as a salaried Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics in the late 1990s. In 1996, he delivered the Ellen Churchill Semple lecture at UK Geography.[4] He moved to the City University of New York in 2001 as a Distinguished Professor, now residing in its Department of Anthropology. He has spent most of his academic career in Anglo-America, with brief sojourns in France and a range of foreign visiting appointments (currently as acting Advisory Professor at Tongji University in Shanghai). He has supervised many PhD students. Several of these, such as Neil Smith, Richard Walker, Erik Swyngedouw, Michael Johns, Maarten Hajer, Patrick Bond, Melissa Wright, and Greg Ruiters now hold or held important academic positions themselves. In 2013 Harvey was asked by the Republic of Ecuador to help set up the National Strategic Center for the Right to the Territory (CENEDET),[5] which he directed with the urbanist Miguel Robles-Durán until its alleged forced closure in 2017.

Critical response to Harvey's work has been sustained. In the early years, there was competition between Harvey and proponents of quantitative and non-politicized geography, notably Brian Berry. A recent critical appraisal (Castree & Gregory, 2006) explores some critiques of Harvey in detail.

Reading Marx's Capital

Two constants in Harvey's life and work have been teaching a course on Marx's Capital[6] and his support for student activism and community and labour movements (notably in Baltimore). His course was put into a Youtube lecture series,[7] which gained immense popularity and resulted in two companion books for the two volumes of Marx's Capital.[8]


David Harvey is widely recognized as a foundational scholar in urban geography.[9] Harvey's books have been widely translated. He holds honorary doctorates from Roskilde (Denmark), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Faculty of Social Sciences at Uppsala University[10] (Sweden), Ohio State University (USA), Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Kent (UK). Among other awards he has received the Anders Retzius Gold Medal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and the Vautrin Lud International Prize in Geography (France). He was made a fellow of the British Academy in 1998, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007. He is a member of the Interim Committee for the emerging International Organization for a Participatory Society.[11]

Affiliated institutions

  • B.A. (Hons) St Johns College, Cambridge, 1957
  • PhD St Johns College, Cambridge, 1961.
  • Post-doc, University of Uppsala, Sweden 1960–1961
  • Lecturer, Geography, University of Bristol, UK (1961–1969)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, (1969–1973)
  • Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University (1973–1987, and 1993–2001)
  • Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford (1987–1993)
  • Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, City University of New York (2001–present)


  • Explanation in Geography (1969)
  • Social Justice and the City (1973)
  • The Limits to Capital (1982)
  • The Urbanization of Capital (1985)
  • Consciousness and the Urban Experience (1985)
  • The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (1989)
  • The Urban Experience (1989)
  • Teresa Hayter, David Harvey (eds.) (1994) The Factory and the City: The Story of the Cowley Automobile Workers in Oxford. Thomson Learning
  • Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference (1996)
  • Megacities Lecture 4: Possible Urban Worlds, Twynstra Gudde Management Consultants, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, (2000)
  • Spaces of Hope (2000)
  • Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography (2001)
  • The New Imperialism (2003)
  • Paris, Capital of Modernity (2003)
  • A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005)
  • Spaces of Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development (2006)
  • The Limits to Capital New Edition (2006)
  • The Communist Manifesto- New Introduction Pluto Press (2008)
  • Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom (2009)
  • Social Justice and the City: Revised Edition (2009)
  • A Companion to Marx's Capital (2010)
  • The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (2010 Profile Books)
  • Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution (2012)
  • A Companion to Marx's Capital, Volume 2 (2013)
  • Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (2014)
  • The Ways of the World (2016)
  • Marx and Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason (2017)

Articles, lectures and interviews

  • Harvey, D. 2000. Possible Urban Worlds. The Fourth Megacities Lecture. The Hague.
  • Merrifield, A. 2002. David Harvey: The Geopolitics of Urbanization. In Metromarxism: A Marxist Tale of the City. New York: Routledge.
  • Harvey, D. 2002. Chapter in Geographical Voices: Fourteen Autobiographical Essays. Ed. p Gould and FR Pitts. Syracuse University Press.
  • Harvey, D. and Kreisler, H. 2004. A Geographer's Perspective on the New American Imperialism. Conversations with History. Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley. audio video
  • Castree, N. 2004. David Harvey. In Key Thinkers on Space and Place, eds. Hubbard, Kitchin, Valentine. Sage Pubs.
  • Castree, N., Essletzbichler, J., Brenner, N. 2004. "Symposium: David Harvey's 'The Limits to Capital': Two Decades On." Antipode 36(3):400–549.
  • Harvey, D. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. University of Chicago Center for International Studies Beyond the Headlines Series. 26 October 2005. audio
  • Harvey, D. and Choonara, J. 2006. "A War Waged by the Wealthy", an interview in SR magazine covering Harvey's account of neoliberalism and class.
  • Jones, J.P. III, T.Mangieri, M.McCourt, S.Moore, K.Park, M.Pryce-Jones, K.Woodward. 2006. David Harvey Live. New York: Continuum.
  • Castree, N. and Gregory, D. 2006. David Harvey: a Critical Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. Trevor Barnes chapter
  • Harvey, D. 2006. Neoliberalism and the City[permanent dead link]. Middlebury College, Rohatyn Center for International Affairs Symposium, "Urban Landscapes: The Politics of Expression". 29 September 2006. audio[permanent dead link] video[permanent dead link]
  • Ashman, S. 2006. "Symposium: On David Harvey's 'The New Imperialism'." Historical Materialism 14(4): 3–166.
  • Lilley, S. 2006 On Neoliberalism: An Interview with David Harvey MR Zine 19 June 2006.
  • Harvey, D. 2006. Neoliberalism and the City. 22nd Annual University of Pennsylvania Urban Studies Public Lecture. 2 November 2006. audio
  • Harvey, D. 2007. The Neoliberal City[permanent dead link]. Lecture at Dickinson College, sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues. 1 Feb 2007. audio[permanent dead link] video[permanent dead link]
  • Harvey, D., Arrighi, G., Andreas, J., 2008. Symposium on Giovanni Arrighi's Adam Smith in Beijing. 5 March 2008. Red Emma's of Baltimore. video
  • A Conversation With David Harvey
  • Harvey, D. 2008 Reading Marx's Capital An open course consisting of a close reading of the text of Marx's Capital Volume I in 13 video lectures by David Harvey.
  • Escobar, P., 2008 The State of Empire: Pepe Escobar talks to David Harvey The Real News Network 19 August 2008.
  • Schouten, P., 2008 Theory Talk #20: David Harvey on the Geography of Capitalism, Understanding Cities as Polities and Shifting Imperialisms Theory Talks 9 October 2008.
  • Harvey, D. 2008 The Right to the City, 'New Left Review', October 2008
  • Harvey, D. 2008. The Enigma of Capital. A lecture at City University of New York Graduate Center on 14 November 2008 audio
  • Harvey, D. 2008. A Financial Katrina – Remarks on the Crisis. A lecture at City University of New York Graduate Center on 29 October 2008 audio
  • Harvey, D. 2009. Why the U.S. Stimulus Package is Bound To Fail. 12 January 2009.
  • Harvey, D. 2009. Reshaping Economic Geography: The World Development Report 2009 Development and Change. Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. 15 December 2009.
  • Harvey, D. 2009. Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition. Draws heavily on his forthcoming [April 2010] book,The Enigma of Capital. 16 December 2009.
  • Harvey, D. 2010. The Crises of Capitalism Lecture given at the RSA, London. Provides a concise overview of the argument presented in The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism. Includes question and answer session after lecture. 26 April 2010.
  • Harvey, D. 2010. The Crises of Capitalism (abridged and animated) Animated (and abridged) version of 2010 RSA Lecture above. Concise and humorous introduction to Harvey's thought on the 2007–08 economic crisis. 28 June 2010.
  • Harvey, D. et al. 2011. Territorial Justice, Human Flourishing and Geographical Strategies of Liberation, Justice spatiale | Spatial Justice.
  • Oudenampsen, Robles-Durán, Miguel. 2011 Mobility, Crisis, Utopia An Interview with David Harvey. [2]
  • Harvey, D. 2013. Focaal Interview Interviewed by Zoltan Gluck for Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology. 12 December 2013.
  • Harvey, D. 2014. The 17 Contradictions of Capitalism, London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Harvey, D and Panitch, Leo. Beyond Impossible Reform and Improbable Revolution. Jacobin. 1 January 2015.
  • Harvey, D. 2018. White Mirror Interviewed by Jeremy Scahill on Intercepted podcast. The Intercept. 17 January 2018. Segment begins at 1:16:00.
  • Harvey, D. 2018. ON CONTACT: A critic of Neoliberalism, part 1 and part 2. Interviewed by Chris Hedges on On Contact for RT. 10 November 2018.


  1. ^ "Most cited authors of books in the humanities, 2007". Times Higher Education (THE). 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2017-10-10. (Subscription required (help)).
  2. ^ https://soundcloud.com/freshed-podcast/freshed-100-a-marxist-critique-of-higher-education-david-harvey
  3. ^ David Harvey (2010). The enigma of capital: and the crises of capitalism. Profile Books. ISBN 1-84765-201-8.
  4. ^ Ellen Churchill Semple Day (accessed 30 June 2015)
  5. ^ CEDENET Ecuador [1]
  6. ^ Harvey, D. 2008 "Reading Marx's Capital" An open course consisting of a close reading of the text of Marx's Capital Volume I in 13 video lectures by David Harvey.
  7. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBazR59SZXk
  8. ^ Harvey, David (2010). A Companion to Marx's Capital. Verso Books. ISBN 1844673596.
  9. ^ Castree, N. and Gregory, D. eds., 2008. David Harvey: a critical reader. John Wiley & Sons.
  10. ^ http://www.uu.se/en/about-uu/traditions/prizes/honorary-doctorates/
  11. ^ 'International Organization for a Participatory Society – Interim Committee Retrieved 2012-3-31

External links

  • CUNY Graduate Center Anthropology Faculty Page
  • davidharvey.org Official Site. Currently "Reading Marx's Capital with David Harvey" open course.
  • David Harvey on Twitter
  • David Harvey on Charlie Rose
  • Books by David Harvey on WorldCat
  • David Harvey on Rebel Cities, Occupy Wall Street, and the Benefits of Class Struggle on Democracy Now!
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