|Richard A. Walker
The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area
By Richard Walker, Professor of Geography
University of California, Berkeley 94720-4740
University of Washington Press
Weyerhauser Series in Environmental History
William Cronon, Ed.
The San Francisco Bay Area is more greensward than asphalt jungle, more open space than hardscape. In the nine-county San Francisco region, 3.75 of 4.5 million acres are greenbelt and open water, and less than 750,000 acres lie beneath buildings and pavements. Almost 900,000 acres are in publicly owned open space, an area larger than Yosemite National Park. The Bay Area has the most extensive such greensward in the country. This book tells the story of how the Bay Area got its green groove.
|Interests: Economic geography, regional development, capitalism and politics, cities and urbanism, resources and environment, California, class and race.
Professor Walkers best known work is in economic geography, especially The Capitalist Imperative: Territory, Technology and Industrial Growth (Blackwell, 1989), with Michael Storper - one of the most cited books in the field. Other writing in this vein includes, "The geography of production" In Sheppard & Barnes, eds. Companion to Economic Geography (2000) and "Putting Capital in its Place: Globalization and the Prospects for Labor" Geo-forum (1999).
Since 1990, Professor Walkers focus has been on California, a major economic, political and cultural hearth of world capitalism. This theme is explored in such articles as "California's golden road to riches: natural resources and regional capitalism, 1848-1940" Annals of the AAG (2001) and California rages against the dying of the light New Left Review (1995).
He recently published a book on the history of the states astonishing agricultural system, The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California (New Press, 2004). This tells the story of how capitalism developed the California countryside into the leading agrarian production complex in the United States.
Professor Walker's most recent book concerns the creation of the San Francisco Bay Area greenbelt and the local environmental movement. The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area (University of Washington Press, 2007) narrates the many stories of land preservation, saving the bay, and fighting toxics that have made this a global bastion of environmentalism.
Professor Walker is also known as an urban geographer, and his next book recounts the making of urban landscape of the Bay Area. It will be titled City at Bay: The Making of the San Francisco-Oakland Metropolis. In this work, Walker picks up on themes he explored in early writings on suburbanization and in articles such as Landscape and city life: four ecologies of residence in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ecumene (1995).
A follow-up book will deal with the urbanization of Silicon Valley. Books have been written about electronics in that storied place, but none about the shape of the city that has grown up around the industry. No longer the poster child for sprawl, San Jose and Silicon Valley have become one of the densest and most racially mixed cities in the U.S. This volume is tentatively titled, Silicon City: The Urbanization of the Electronics Mecca.
An enduring thread of Professor Walkers thought is the logic of capitalism as an economic, political and social system, and its geographical evolution. It comes out in orthodox forms, as in "Capitalism's recurrent self-criticism: an evaluation of Bob Brenner's Origins of Global Turbulence" Historical Materialism (2000) and unorthodox ones, as in The New Social Economy: Reworking the Division of Labor (Blackwell, 1992), with Andrew Sayer.
Walker loves the life of teacher and advisor, and is proud of the many former students teaching around the country. He served five years as Department Chair, 1994-99, helping to re-shape Berkeley Geography. He edited the journal Antipode throughout the 1990s and has been Chair of a statewide California Studies Association and of a California Studies Center at UC Berkeley since 2000.
He has also been an activist in public affairs and on campus, fighting against such monstrosities as the Peripheral Canal, the Gulf War, and the Patriot Act. He takes great joy in the arts of gardening, singing and parenting, among virtues not listed on the official CV.
|Listen to Richard Walker's interview with KPFA's Against the Grain on The Conquest of Bread (downloads as mp3 file)|
The Conquest of Bread
150 YEARS OF AGRIBUSINESS IN CALIFORNIA
California agriculture has been described as one of the wonders of the world, an ever-evolving cornucopia, supplying one-third of the table food consumed by Americans. The earths most intensely farmed non-tropical landscape, California exemplifies capitalist agriculture in its purest and most advanced form. Indeed, many of the defining characteristics of 21st century world agriculture such as irrigation districts, subcontracting, petro-farming, feedlots, biotechnology and concrete dams were pioneered in California.
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