David W. Harvey is a British Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at The Graduate Center of City University of New York (CUNY) and a famous author of several best-selling books. He received his doctorate in Geography from the University of Cambridge in 1961 and since then has been teaching and authoring several books and numerous influential essays and articles on geographical knowledge, urbanization in capitalist economy, urban planning, Marxism and social theory, environment and social change, ecological movements, etc. which have collectively contributed to the advancement of Modern Geography as a subject. His long illustrious academic career includes teaching positions at some of the leading universities of the world such as the University of Bristol and the University of Oxford, in England; and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. One of his most important teaching subjects for over 40 years now is Karl Marx's ‘Capital’ which makes him one of most prominent Marxist scholars in the past half century. He is also one of the world’s most frequently cited social scientists. In 2007, he was ranked as the 18thmost-cited author in the humanities and social sciences sections. Earlier, he was also ranked first in a study of the most-cited academic geographers in four English-speaking countries between 1984 and 1988. His latest publication is titled ‘The Ways of the World’ (2016).
Childhood & Early Life
Harvey was born on born 31 October, 1935 at Gillingham, Kent, England.
In his childhood, he studied at the Gillingham Grammar School for Boys and later pursued both undergraduate and postgraduate courses at St John's College, Cambridge, England.
He passed B.A. Honours in Geography with a First Class in 1957 followed by an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Geography in 1961. He also did post-doctorate studies at the University of Uppsala, Sweden from 1960–1961.
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From 1961-69, Harvey worked as a Lecturer in Geography at the University of Bristol, England. By mid-1960s, he made significant contribution to spatial science and positivist theory.
In 1969, he shifted to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA and became Associate Professor of Geography. Around that time, he started taking active interest in the newly emerged field of radical and Marxist Geography.
Racial discrimination and abuse were common in Baltimore at that time and movements against these social menaces were frequent. ‘Antipode’ - the periodical was initiated at Clark University and he became one of its first contributors. Along with his peers, he began challenging traditional approaches in 1971, during the Boston Association of American Geographers meetings.
Till 1973, he continued as Associate Professor, following which he became Professor of Geographyat Johns Hopkins University, and continued in the position till 1989.
Meanwhile, from 1987 to 1993, he was Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford. In 1993, he returned to the Johns Hopkins University as Professor of Geography and continued till 2001.
In 1996, he delivered the famous Ellen Churchill Semple lecture at the Department of Geography, University of Kentucky. In 2001, he shifted to The Graduate Center, City University of New York as Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography.
His research interests are Geography and social theory, geographical knowledge, urban political economy and urbanization in the advanced capitalist countries, architecture and urban planning, Marxism and social theory, cultural geography and cultural change, environmental philosophies, environment and social change, ecological movements, social justice, geographies of difference,and utopianism, among others.
For more than 40 years now, he has been teaching important courses on Marx's ‘Capital’ and has supported student activism and community and labor movements, particularly in Baltimore. His online lectures on ‘Capital’ have garnered more than 700,000 page views since June 2008.
In between his highly successful and elaborate academic career, he also visited several foreign universities on brief scholarly appointments. Moreover, he has provided guidance to several eminent doctorate students, such as Neil Smith, Richard Walker, Erik Swyngedouw, Michael Johns, Maarten Hajer, Patrick Bond, Melissa Wright, and Greg Ruiters.
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In 2013, the Republic of Ecuador requested him to help set up the National Strategic Center for the Right to the Territory (CENEDET), which he presently co-directs with urbanist Miguel Robles-Durán.
Harvey’s first publication, ‘Explanation in Geography’ (1969) became an important text in the field of Geography. In this book, he applied the philosophy of science to geographical knowledge. After its publication, he moved on to issues of social injustice and the capitalist system.
In ‘Social Justice and the City’ (1973) he clarified that in the face of urban poverty and allied evils, Geography cannot remain purely ‘objective’. He made a significant contribution to Marxian theory by proposing that capitalism destroys spaces to ensure its own growth.
He wrote ‘The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change’ (1989) while he was a Professor at Oxford. The best-selling book was a materialist evaluation of postmodern ideas and opinions that emerge from inconsistencies within capitalism itself.
‘Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference’ (1996) focused on social and environmental justice. ‘Spaces of Hope’ (2000) had a Utopian theme, with thoughts on the structure of an alternative world. ‘Paris, Capital of Modernity’ (2003) was his most elaborate historical-geographical work.
In ‘The New Imperialism’ (2003) he criticised the war in Iraq, arguing that the war allowed the US neo-conservatives to divert attention from the letdowns of capitalism back ‘at home’. ‘A Brief History of Neoliberalism’ (2005), provided a historical examination of the theory and divergent practices of neoliberalism since the mid-1970s.
In ‘The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism’ (2010), he analysed the ongoing financial crisis and explained how capitalism came to control the world, leading to an inevitable economic disaster.
His recent works include ‘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), and ‘The Ways of the World’ (2016).
Awards & Achievements
Harvey's books have been translated into several foreign languages, particularly into Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Arabic, Turkish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, German, Greek, Chinese, Polish, Swedish, Persian and Romanian.
He has received honorary doctorates from Roskilde (Denmark), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Uppsala University and Lund University (Sweden), Ohio State University (USA), and the University of Kentucky.
He has been honored with several awards including the Outstanding Contributor Award of the Association of American Geographers in 1982, the Anders Retzius Gold Medal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography in 1989, the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society London, and the Vautrin Lud International Prize in Geography (France), both in 1995.
He was elected Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 1998 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.
Personal Life & Legacy
Harvey is married and his daughter, Delfina was born in January, 1990.