Tracy Neumann is working on a new book, provisionally titled The Urban International: Design and Development from the Marshall Plan to Microfinance. The project is a political, cultural, and intellectual history of the global dissemination of urban design and international development concepts through philanthropic foundations and international organizations since 1945. Her central concern is how urban planners, architects, consultants, academics, public officials, and grassroots activists circulated ideas about how cities should look, who counted as urban citizens, and who should have access to public space and public resources. She situates those guiding questions in an examination of the shift from liberal, state-led modernization projects to neoliberal, market-oriented development in cities around the world.
Through an investigation of programs sponsored by organizations such as the UN, UNESCO, the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, The Urban International reconstructs how ideas about the design and management of North Atlantic cities influenced, and were influenced by, development projects in the global South. Many of the same people and organizations directed and funded international development programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and urban revitalization projects in the US, Canada, and Europe, and their work was one conduit through which neoliberal ideas moved around the world. The book draws on oral histories and materials from the UN, UNESCO, and World Bank archives; at the Rockefeller Archive Center; and the records of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, MIT’s planning department, and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design.