Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities

( 1 )


When we think of segregation, what often comes to mind is apartheid South Africa, or the American South in the age of Jim Crow—two societies fundamentally premised on the concept of the separation of the races. But as Carl H. Nightingale shows us in this magisterial history, segregation is everywhere, deforming cities and societies worldwide.

Starting with segregation’s ancient roots, and what the archaeological evidence reveals about humanity’s long-standing use of urban ...

See more details below
Hardcover (New Edition)
$26.26 price
(Save 24%)$35.00 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (17) from $10.50   
  • New (12) from $21.14   
  • Used (5) from $10.50   
Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.49 price
(Save 40%)$21.00 List Price


When we think of segregation, what often comes to mind is apartheid South Africa, or the American South in the age of Jim Crow—two societies fundamentally premised on the concept of the separation of the races. But as Carl H. Nightingale shows us in this magisterial history, segregation is everywhere, deforming cities and societies worldwide.

Starting with segregation’s ancient roots, and what the archaeological evidence reveals about humanity’s long-standing use of urban divisions to reinforce political and economic inequality, Nightingale then moves to the world of European colonialism. It was there, he shows, segregation based on color—and eventually on race—took hold; the British East India Company, for example, split Calcutta into “White Town” and “Black Town.” As we follow Nightingale’s story around the globe, we see that division replicated from Hong Kong to Nairobi, Baltimore to San Francisco, and more. The turn of the twentieth century saw the most aggressive segregation movements yet, as white communities almost everywhere set to rearranging whole cities along racial lines. Nightingale focuses closely on two striking examples: Johannesburg, with its state-sponsored separation, and Chicago, in which the goal of segregation was advanced by the more subtle methods of real estate markets and housing policy.

For the first time ever, the majority of humans live in cities, and nearly all those cities bear the scars of segregation. This unprecedented, ambitious history lays bare our troubled past, and sets us on the path to imagining the better, more equal cities of the future.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Chris Saunders
"Most of us live in cities shaped in part by segregation, but urban segregation is usually studied in particular cases. Carl Nightingale adopts a world history perspective and ranges from Calcutta and Johannesburg to Chicago and other places. His book is a major contribution to both the study of segregation and comparative urban studies."
Simon Gunn
"This study of the segregation of the world's cities by race since the eighteenth century is an extraordinary achievement. Its scope is truly global, extending from urban Africa and Asia to the cities of the Americas and Europe and synthesizing in the process a vast literature. Through this prism Carl Nightingale weaves a history which brilliantly links the big themes of empire, migration and racialization to the microanalysis of place and space in cities such as Johannesburg, Calcutta, and Chicago. By reconnecting urban history with the history of race in a genuinely global perspective he creates a new fusion that adds enormously to our understanding of how cities became—and were maintained as—sites of segregation and exclusion."
James Campbell
"This is a book of genuinely global sweep, traversing continents and millennia of human history. Yet it is also a wonderfully detailed and nuanced work of archivally based history, particularly in its later chapters, which offer fine-grained accounts of the elaboration of segregationist ideology and practice in two specific cities, Chicago and Johannesburg. This is a terrific book: original, important, and astonishingly broad-ranging."
Thomas Bender
"Carl H. Nightingale has written a book of enormous ambition—and accomplishment. Moving between broad patterns and local detail, he has produced a global history of modern coerced racial segregation from its imperial origins to postwar suburbanization. It is a history marked by moral passion, clarity of thought and expression, and extraordinary research on all continents. His rich and powerful argument is that segregation has not only been a global fact but also the result of transnational ideological connections, economic practices, and government policies."
Times Higher Education
"The scope of the work is challenging and impressive."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226580746
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Series: Historical Studies of Urban America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 536
  • Sales rank: 1,394,864
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl H. Nightingale is professor of urban and world history in the Department of Transnational Studies at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is the author of On the Edge: Poor Black Children and Their American Dreams.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


A Global History of Divided Cities
By Carl H. Nightingale

The University of Chicago Press

Copyright © 2012 Carl H. Nightingale
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-58074-6

Chapter One

Seventy Centuries of City-Splitting

Before Race Mattered

When did we first start dividing our cities into separate, unequal, and compulsory residential zones? And when did we start to spread such practices across the world?

The answers to these questions cannot simply be chalked up to a human instinct to distance ourselves from those we find unfamiliar. Throughout our history, we have defined the boundaries between in-groups and out-groups—the "us" and the "them"—in many ways. Our cities' politics have reflected changes and variations in those definitions, each of which gave rise to a different type of segregationist politics. The idea that humanity is divided into separate "races," for example, is relatively young. It was not until the 1700s that Westerners first used race as a universalized category to explain human differences, and it was only then that it became important to the practice of dividing cities.

Sadly, though, people did not need to wait for the invention of race in the West to start dividing cities, nor to replicate urban segregation over large regions of the world. In fact, for about seventy centuries—arguably since the invention of cities themselves—we have repeatedly committed acts of inequitable and forcible city-splitting. Along the way, we have justified our actions in the name of just about every other concept of human difference imaginable, marking offseparate residential territories for different classes, clans, castes, craft s, nations, religions, civilizations, and even sexes. The most successful forms of ancient segregationist politics were based on more complex and specific combinations of these ideas: that the gods should live in separate, more splendid places than mere mortals; that city dwellers should live separately from those in the countryside; and that foreigners should live apart from local people.

Unlike the case of racial segregation, no single civilization was responsible for the invention and replication of these ancient forms of city-splitting. Instead, each of humanity's urban civilizations adopted these segregationist practices for the most part on their own. They did this at approximately the same time that they built their first cities and that they invented three institutions crucial to segregationist politics: authoritarian governments, castes of elite religious intellectuals, and institutionalized inequalities of wealth that included efforts to monopolize control over urban land. These were the direct ancestors of the institutions that would spread racial segregation worldwide during the modern era.

The Long Shadow of the Ziggurat

Sometime around 5000 BCE—seventy centuries ago—the Mesopotamian god Marduk is said to have commanded his priests and worshipers to build a temple at a place called Eridu. Archaeologists uncovered this city, which many consider the oldest of all, under a mound of windblown desert sand in 1854 in today's Iraq. Long before that, though, in 600 BCE, a gaggle of Babylonian poets had already identified Eridu as the birthplace of segregation by claiming that the city came into being when Marduk ordered his followers to surround "his holy house ... of the gods in a holy place" with separate dwellings for ordinary mortals charged with the place's upkeep.

Human settlements contained all sorts of dividing lines long before Marduk's power move into Mesopotamian real estate. On the most elementary level, of course, the walls and roofs of all dwelling places intrinsically "segregate" sheltered spaces from exposed ones. Towns and cities, for their part, have no existence without their honeycomb-like built environment, made up of clusters of such walls and roofs. But it is certainly possible to imagine a settlement without the type of segregation that Marduk proposed. In fact, archaeologists found exactly such a "protocity" during the 1960s at a place in Turkey called Çatalhöyük. The interiors of Çatalhöyük's houses, more than a thousand years older than Eridu's, were themselves subdivided in simple and familiar ways. Cooking space was marked off by hearths; food-storage areas contained dugout grain bins; prayer, sleep, and lovemaking happened elsewhere; and there was also a separate place for the dead—buried under the floor. The status of men and women was apparently much more equal than in later cities, and they seem to have shared the same spaces, though some may have been closely associated with the daily activities of one sex more than the other.

Outside, Çatalhöyük was divided into separate cells by the walls of its houses. But within the honeycomb of the town there was little evidence of the separation of the diverse activities or functions that help distinguish a city from simpler settlements. All of Çatalhöyük's residents did more or less the same thing: they farmed. Some townsfolk moonlighted as artisans, but their workshops seem to have occupied yet another space inside their houses. The only clear large-scale dividing line was that which separated the town itself from the surrounding fields and wild places. Çatalhöyük's builders never even set aside space for streets between the town's buildings, which snuggled right up next to each other and shared each others' walls (to get around, people probably climbed a ladder through a door in their ceilings and walked on the rooftops). All of the houses also looked more or less the same. A few were a little bigger than others, and some had more bodies buried under their floors than others, a hint that some might have been more important ritual spots than others. But all of them had approximately the same sized bins for storing grain, implying rough economic equality. Questions about dividing space may have led to some complex political dramas. Exactly which spaces belonged to different members of the community could have caused quarrels, for example—the kind of conflicts that in some societies could result in boundaries between pieces of private property. Whether or not Çatalhöyük's residents engaged in such conflicts, though, they did little to use the separation of urban space as a means to differentiate between the rich and the poor—or the powerful and the subordinate.

Then, so say the Babylonian poets, Marduk changed world history by demanding a special space for gods to live—a "dwelling of [their] hearts' delight"—as the poets called the temple of Eridu, that would set divine urban zones apart from those for mere mortals.

Needless to say, it actually took more than the snap of godly fingers to bring urban inequality and segregation into being. Despite Eridu's mythic status as the birthplace of Sumerian kingship (other narratives name Enki, Marduk's father and creator of the earth, as the city's founder), its temple was quite a modest affair for more than a thousand years, and its floor plan suggests it was quite accessible. Nor did ancient forms of urban inequality always depend on segregation, or vice versa. During Eridu's first millennium, people elsewhere in the region built both exalted sacred places without separate towns nearby and towns without sacred districts that appear nonetheless to have been increasingly unequal.

That said, it is clear that, after 4000 BCE, at the dawn of the written historical record, separate temple districts in Sumer modeled on those of Eridu had become the site of crucial political conflicts between cities' elite officials and intellectuals—the local priests—and these conflicts ultimately resulted in the rule of authoritarian factions that, in turn, founded the first lines of divinely ordained urban kings and queens. In these cities, a larger "sacropolitical" district grew around the temple that included the royal palace and, crucially, the city's granaries—indicating the development of centrally controlled food-distribution systems. Fearsome walls also surrounded the god-kings' urban territories for the first time, signaling a deliberate effort to exclude all but the city's elect.

As the authority of governments and court intellectuals intensified, and as they assumed growing power over the allocation of urban land, measures of urban segregation grew severer. Monarchs and priests, eager to meet the gods' apparently increasing needs for residential splendor, repeatedly ordered the palace-temples rebuilt over the centuries, usually enlarging them and making them more grandiose each time. Since the rubble of dismantled older buildings, oft en carefully stacked in a giant pile, served as the foundation for the new ones, the exclusive homes of the gods also began to grow upward toward the heavens.

In this way, Mesopotamia's famous ziggurats grew, and monumental urban architecture was born, assuming a crucial role in the politics of city-splitting that has lasted well into our own age. By the time of the legendary tyrant Gilgamesh, sometime around 3000 BCE, the city of Uruk's temple district of Eanna, home to the goddess Inanna or Ishtar, was hoisted high on its own human-made hill and surrounded by a massive wall—sublime in its mountainous separation from the rest of the city. The evidence of egalitarianism is long gone:

He built the walls of ramparted Uruk, The lustrous treasury [or storehouse] of Eanna! See its upper wall, whose facing gleams like copper, Gaze at its lower course, which nothing will equal Mount the stone staircase, there from days of old, Approach Eanna the dwelling of Ishtar, Which no future king, no human, will equal.

From down below, the ziggurat and its surrounding buildings offered a vision of heaven itself, floating in its majesty above the rest of the city. As such, the sacred precinct became a crucial mass medium of the day, beaming down brick-and-mortared propaganda that the gods and their royal servants would assure everyone good harvests, prosperity, health, and peace—or at least victory in war.

With war very much in mind, rulers like Gilgamesh enhanced a second fundamental form of monumental urban separation, that between the city and the countryside. The walls that surrounded the whole city of Uruk measured nearly ten kilometers around, and they too proclaimed the city's link to the divine.

Go up, pace out the walls of Uruk, Study the foundation terrace and examine the brickwork Is not its masonry of kiln-fired brick? And did not the seven masters lay its foundations?

City walls had been around since before complex cities themselves. A hundred centuries ago, Jericho, the earliest of all known protocities, was already surrounded by the ancestor of the famous wall that came tumbling down to the blare of Joshua's trumpets. By contrast, Uruk was a thousand years old before it acquired its walls, sometime around 3000 BCE. The advantages of walls for urban royalty, however, were many. In addition to providing military defense and reinforcing the propaganda of divine rule, city gates provided a convenient place to levy tolls on commerce from outside. Protection could ensure the loyalty of the city's residents; those deemed disloyal could be banished beyond the walls. Walls could flaunt the wealth of the city—as Gilgamesh's chronicler noted, those were kiln-fired bricks, not the cheap ones merely left to dry in the sun! More abstractly, walls also could contrast the superior civilization of the city with that of the hinterland. Inside, city dwellers could acquire unheard of wealth and leisure and look down on the farmers in the surrounding fields. In their epic poems, Mesopotamians contrasted city life—filled with feasting, conviviality, and cutting-edge sexual experimentation—with the wild lands beyond, peopled with bumpkins, drudges, barbaric hordes, wanderers, tent dwellers, half beasts, and bandits.

The two oldest forms of urban segregation also brought into being the most enduring of its many paradoxes. If monuments and city walls offered a tremendous boost to divinely ordained royal power, their very creation required huge expenses of both power and resources. Uruk's temples contained tens of millions of bricks and its walls maybe even a hundred million. Firing each of them required vast amounts of scarce fuel. Tens of thousands of hands were needed to mortar them in place. Yet such monuments also spoke just as eloquently to the vulnerability of the god-kings who built them—above all their need to fend off countless powerful enemies, ranging from rival members of the royal family to unhappy taxpayers to the hordes of mounted pastoralists who sometimes did indeed emerge from the wild lands to storm the walls of cities.

The biggest threat, though, came from other cities. As places like Uruk grew, they reached ever further into the countryside to feed their populations, thus increasing the likelihood that they would impinge upon the territories of other urbanizing settlements. Rival god-monarchs responded to these threats by building their own glorious monuments and fearsome ramparts and by waging their own campaigns of conquest, sometimes unifying large numbers of cities under the control of a single empire.

In this way, governments and their priestly castes did something else completely new in world history: they began to diffuse urban segregation over large distances. First, the ziggurats in the southern Mesopotamian region of Sumer grew more numerous, taller, and more fearsome (the one at Ur was dubbed the "house whose foundation platform is clad in terror"). Then they spread northward and westward into the Fertile Crescent. In Nineveh, for example, the Assyrian emperor Senacherib built a "palace without rival" (700 BCE). A century later the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadrezzar countered with a massive two-tiered ziggurat for Marduk that he called the Foundation of Heaven and Earth and that we call the Tower of Babel. In the meantime, these ancient structures helped inspire other monumental markers of urban division further afield—the Pharaonic sanctuaries of Egyptian cities; the acropolises of Persia, Asia Minor, and Greece; and Rome's Temple of Jupiter on the Capito line Hill. Of all direct descendants of the ziggurat, the most important for subsequent world history was the one built sometime around 950 BCE on Jerusalem's Mount Zion by King Solomon of the small, unified kingdom of Israel and Judah. It housed a royal palace and a temple to the biblical god Yahweh. Mount Zion was destined to become a monumental urban sanctuary for all three of the world's most powerful monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

As monumental segregation spread outward from Sumer, similar political dramas began in other less closely connected parts of the world. These new traditions of monumental segregation radiated outward across large regions, in a few cases intersecting with others radiating from somewhere else. The somewhat less fearsomely divided cities in the Indus-Saraswati valleys of today's Pakistan, which date from after 2600 BCE and which include Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, traded with contemporary Mesopotamian cities and may have imported some aspects of Sumerian urban politics. The cities of sub-Saharan Africa's first urban civilizations, such as Kerma, Meroë, and Napata, which arose in the Middle Nile Valley after 2200 BCE, almost certainly influenced the urban practices of the pharoahs of Egypt.

By contrast, the first sacropolitical districts that developed later in cities elsewhere in Africa—such as Ile-Ife, the "navel of the universe," in West Africa (500 to 800 CE) or the stone palaces at Great Zimbabwe and elsewhere in southern Africa (1000 to 1500 CE)—developed in relative isolation from outside influence. So did the much older cities of the Americas, such as Caral in today's Peru (2600 BCE), from which exclusive districts devoted to the exaltation and propitiation of the gods traveled northward to Mesoamerica, culminating in the great city of Teotihuacán, which later influenced the many monumental cities of the Maya, and the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, on the site of today's Mexico City.

Meanwhile, a similarly independent tradition of monumental city-building began in China under the Shang dynasty after 2000 BCE. There, cosmologists wrote the earliest extant tracts of urban planning, the most famous of which is known as the Chou li. Its authors insisted that the emperor live in a central, walled "Forbidden" or "Imperial City," and that the rest of the city should be enclosed with a larger, square-shaped, walled perimeter precisely oriented to the points of the compass. This basic form, with some variations, provided the models of dynastic capitals throughout three millennia of Chinese history, culminating in medieval Peking (Beijing) after 1421 CE. Similar patterns of urban division spread to Korea, Japan, and what we now call Vietnam.


Excerpted from SEGREGATION by Carl H. Nightingale Copyright © 2012 by Carl H. Nightingale. Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  Introduction


Before Race Mattered 
The Long Shadow of the Ziggurat 
Segregating Strangers 
Scapegoat Ghettos  
Quarters for Classes, Crafts, Clans, Castes, and the Sexes 
Ancient and Medieval Legacies 


Governor Pitt’s Madras 
The Rise and Fall of American (and South African) Segregation in Colonial Times 
Eastward Connections  
The Cross-Colonial Color Connection  
Color before Race 

The Modern Way to Split a City  
How London Conquered and Divided Calcutta  
Race and the Imperial City 
The London-Calcutta Sanitation Connection 
The West End–White Town Connection 
London’s Calcutta Problem 


Paradoxes of Detachment and Dependence 
Beyond Calcutta 
Stations of the Empire 
“Bring Your Cities and Stations within the Pale of Civilization” 
Stations for Sale?  
Beyond India 

Incomings and Outgoings 
Segregating China’s Gateways 
Two Tides in the Pacific 
Segregating All Oceans 

A Call to All Continents 
The Germ Theory of Segregation 
Segregation Sails East with the Plague 
Hunting Rats, Fleas, and Mosquitoes in Africa 
The High Tide of Segregation Mania 
The Long End of the Craze 
Legacies of the Mania 

Imperial Monuments, Imperial Tombstones 
French Connections 
A French Calcutta?  
Planet Haussmann 
Splitting Cities, Beaux-Arts Style 
Sunset at New Delhi 
A Bitter Epitaph 


Archsegregationism and the Wider World 
Squaring Race and Civilization 
A Keystone of Global Anglo-Saxondom 
The Birth of “Separate Development”  
From Labor Control to “Influx Control”  
Grandparents of the Group Areas 

Arrogance and Its Agonies 
The Intimacies of Race War 
They Will Buy Us Out of the Country 
Pandora’s Segregationism 
The Birth Pangs of Nation-State Segregation 

A Subtler Sort of Segregation?  
Segregating the United States 
Jim-Crowing the Neighborhoods 
Segregation by Profiteer, Protective Association, and Pogrom 
A Time for Camouflage 
The “Iron Ring”? 

Split Cities and the Global Cataclysm 
Hitler’s “Death Boxes”  
A New Deal for America’s Color Lines 
The Sinister Synthesis of Apartheid 


Age of Liberation, Age of Apocalypse 
Have Ghettos Gone Global?  
Postcolonial and Neocolonial City-Splitting 
A New Century of Settler Segregation? 
Epilogue: People, the Planet, and Segregated Cities 

Notes  Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    BEST BOOK!!!

    This book is soooo good!!! It tells about segertion in south africa in a easy to understand way!! You are the best we love you DAD!!!!!! LOVE MBALI :) :) :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)