This is a Mike Davis appreciation cluster.

After the great urban theorist announced his decision earlier this summer to enter into palliative care and live out his remaining months at his home in San Diego, the editors of Contemporaries reflected on the influence he has had on us. We recalled the jolt of discovery we felt when we read him first, and we compared notes about what we have learned from him: about activism, writing, and the ways we inhabit cities built by the violence of global capitalism.

I reread the preface to the 2006 second edition of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. With apologies for resorting to "one of those Parisian terms I usually try to run over with my pick-up truck," Davis describes it as "a conjoncture": an illumination of the city at "one of those moments, ripe with paradox and non-linearity, when previously separate moments of history suddenly converge with profoundly unexpected results."1 Once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it.

And the more we thought about what Mike Davis has taught us to see, the more we wanted to think about it. More to the point, we wanted to think about it with other writers who could help us think more deeply and prismatically than we could think alone, so here we are.

This cluster was edited collaboratively by the Contemporaries editorial team: Gloria Fisk, Francisco Robles, Michael Docherty, Tyler Tennant, and our two summer interns, Cecilia Barron and Harrison Knight. 

Gloria Fisk is Editor-in-Chief of Contemporaries. She writes about contemporary literature in a global context, with a particular interest in the novel, and is the author of Orhan Pamuk and the Good of World Literature (2018). Gloria's areas of interest include the critical debates surrounding world literature in the U.S. as well as novel theory, postcolonial studies, translation theory, and critical writing.

  1. Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York: Verso Books, 2006), vi.[]