Branding Cities: Cosmopolitanism, Parochialism, and Social Change. Edited by Stephanie Hemelryk Donald, Eleonore Kofman, and Catherine Kevin. London/ New York: Routledge, 2009. xiii+232 pp, filmography, bibliography, index. ISBN 10:0-415-96526-8 (hbk) ISBN 10: 0-20388429-9 (ebk).
Let it be said at the outset: this collection of thirteen articles on how cities are branded was a kind of 'fun' read once I got past my initial astonishment and accepted the editors' claim that "the most prominent 'brand guru' on the circuit," Simon Anholt, may have gotten on to a useful bandwagon (7). As the founder of Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands, Anholt holds that a "brand image" of a country or a city is important to "its national reputation" to "future prosperity and progress" (see Anholt, 21 September, 2011. Current Affairs Podcast, the Business Radio Station, retrieved, 13 February, 2012). Also serving as policy adviser to governments, Anholt has institutionalized the branding of places as a necessary strategy for boosting their economic, political, and cultural charm to appeal to tourists, migrants, and international corporations. From this point of view, the humanitarian concern with the pain caused to cattle by branding, in addition to the critique of branding as a device for exploitation publicized by Naomi Klein in No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (New York, 2000), appears to be outmoded.
The thirteen chapters of this book are divided into five parts: An Introductory section with three chapters is followed by "Branding the City: Selling Contradiction for Global Advantage" (Part I), "Idea of the City: Cinematic Futures and the Grounds of the Present" (Part II), and "'Family Histories: The Remembered City" (Part. III), and a philosophical Coda (Part IV).
In the introduction, the editors explore "Processes of Cosmopolitanism and Parochialism" in an attempt to lay out a framework for the remaining chapters. The central issue articulated by the editors is whether branding cities advances cosmopolitanism or parochialism. They, along with all the contributors, assume that branding cities is both necessary and beneficial. In descriptions that vary from quasi-ethnography to historical narratives, most of the writers do refer to cosmopolitanism and parochialism and show that they are far from being opposites. While most places work on how to define their 'brand' with an eye to the cosmopolitan (in the sense of round-the-world) acceptance and...