Neil Brenner

Neil Brenner is Professor of Urban Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD).  His writing and teaching focus on the theoretical, conceptual and methodological dimensions of urban questions.  His work builds upon, and seeks to extend, the fields of critical urban and regional studies, comparative geopolitical economy and radical sociospatial theory.  Major research foci include processes of urban and regional restructuring and uneven spatial development; the generalization of capitalist urbanization; and processes of state spatial restructuring, with particular reference to the remaking of urban, metropolitan and regional governance configurations under contemporary neoliberalizing capitalism.

In 2014, Brenner was selected as a Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher (  Based on Web of Science data, his publications were ranked among the top 1% most cited globally in the general social sciences between 2002 and 2012.

Brenner’s most recent books are Critique of Urbanization: Selected Essays (Basel: Bauwelt Fundamente Series, Birkhäuser Verlag, 2016); Teoría urbana crítica y políticas de escala (edited, introduced and translated by Alvaro Sevilla-Buitrago; Barcelona: Icaria, colección Espacios Críticos, 2016); The explosion of the urban/La explosion de lo urbano (Santiago de Chile: ARQ ediciones, 2016); and the edited volume, Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization (Jovis, 2014). 

Forthcoming books include New Urban Spaces: Urban Theory and the Scale Question (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017); and Is the World Urban? Towards a Critique of Geospatial Ideology (with Nikos Katsikis; Barcelona: Actar, 2017).  Collections of his previous writings are also forthcoming in Italian under the title Stato, spazio, urbanizzazione (edited and translated by Teresa Pullano; Milan: Guerini, 2016) and in Chinese under the title City, Territory, Planet: Studies in Critical Urban Theory (Beijing: Commercial Press, 2017).  With Christian Schmid of the ETH-Zurich, Brenner is also engaged in a long-term collaborative project on planetary urbanization.

Brenner’s previous books include New State Spaces: Urban Governance and the Rescaling of Statehood (Oxford University Press, 2004) and the co-edited volumes Cities for People, not for Profit: Critical Urban Theory and the Right to the City (with Peter Marcuse and Margit Mayer; Routledge 2011); and Spaces of Neoliberalism: Urban Restructuring in North America and Western Europe (with Nik Theodore; Blackwell, 2003), among others.  Brenner’s scholarly articles and essays have been translated into other languages, including Chinese, Croatian, Finnish, French, Hungarian, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish. 

In 2015-2016, along with his collaborators in the Urban Theory Lab, Brenner co-produced Operational LandscapesTowards an Alternative Cartography of World Urbanization, an exhibition which explores the extension of an urban fabric into some of the world’s most apparently “remote” regions, including the Amazon, the Arctic, the Gobi desert, the Himalayas, the Pacific Ocean, the Sahara desert and Siberia, as well as the earth’s atmosphere.  The work was exhibited at the Melbourne School of Design, the Yale School of Architecture, the School of Architecture/Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and (in a collaboration with Milica Topalovic and Christian Schmid, ETH Zurich/Future Cities Lab Singapore) the Shenzhen Biennale, Radical Urbanism

Brenner has held visiting professorships in several universities, including the Lim Chong Yah Visiting Professorship (Department of Geography, National University of Singapore), the Wibaut Chair of Urban Studies (Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan and Development Studies, University of Amsterdam and the Bard Prison Initiative Distinguished Visiting Professorship (Bard College).  Brenner is a former Chief Editor of the Studies in Urban and Social Change (SUSC) book series (Blackwell-Wiley), former Interventions and Book Reviews Editor of Antipode and a former editorial board member of International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Studies and Urban Affairs Review.    

Prior to his appointment to the GSD, Brenner was Professor of Sociology and Metropolitan Studies at New York University, where he also served as Director of NYU’s Metropolitan Studies Program.  Brenner has co-supervised Ph.D. research in Sociology, Geography, History, Political Science, American Studies, Law & Society, Urban Planning and Architecture, among other fields.

Selected publications:

Neil Brenner, La Explosión de la Urbano (Santiago de Chile:  ARQ editiones, 2016) 

Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid,  Combat, caricature and critique in the study of planetary urbanization (Cambridge and Zurich: Urban Theory Lab + Contemporary City Institute, 2015)

Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid, Towards a new epistemology of the urban? CITY, 19, 2-3, 2015, 151-182.

Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid, The ‘urban age’ in question International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38, 3, 2014, 731-755.

Neil Brenner, editor,  Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization (Berlin: Jovis, 2013).

Neil Brenner, Theses on UrbanizationPublic Culture, 25, 1, 2013, 86-114.

Neil Brenner, Jamie Peck and Nik Theodore, The Afterlives of Neoliberalism.  Civic City Cahier 4 (London: Bedford Press, 2013).

Neil Brenner, Margit Mayer and Peter Marcuse eds, Cities for People, not for Profiit: Critical Urban Theory and the Right to the City (New York: Routledge, 2011).

Neil Brenner, What is critical urban theory? in CITY,  13, 2–3,  2009, 198-207.

Neil Brenner, New State Spaces: Urban Governance and the Rescaling of Statehood (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

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Neil Brenner giving the Centenary Lecture in the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, in December 2013