Peter Marcuse, April 2012

Peter Marcuse

Professor of Urban Planning,
Columbia University

page created by Harold Marcuse
January 1, 2005, last updated 5/18/2018

for the
Marcuse family website

Permission to Publish
Herbert Marcuse's Works
Texts on this site
Recent book publications

News (back to top)November 6, 2008 Invitation, p. 1

  • 8/16/16: In 1964 Peter spent two weeks in Jackson, Mississippi as a member of a project giving legal aid in civil rights cases. He wrote a series of five articles for his hometown newspaper, the Waterbury American, describing his experiences. You can read the articles in one 12-page pdf, or individually, as listed below.
    • "Traveling In Another World," July 9, 1964. Describes his arrival at the Jackson airport, and some forms of harrassment that civil rights activists experience from police and local residents.
    • "Modern Mississippi Justice," July 13, 1964. Describes how the judicial system (frivolous arrests, bail, legal counsel) was used to silence integrationists.
    • "'War' in Mississippi," July 17, 1964. Describes a meeting with the adversarial mayor of Columbus, MS, about the arrests of volunteers who were passing out leaflets in a Black neighborhood, and how difficult it was for legal aid to rent a typewriter locally.
    • "'Progress' in Mississippi," July 18, 1964. Continues the previous installment, about the hurdles in filing a petition to remove the case from local jurisdiction to a Federal Circuit Court.
    • "Still a Long Way To Go," July 21, 1964. Offers an overview of the effects of the Civil Rights Act: how integrated businesses and better-off Blacks are benefitting, while "normal" citizens see few gains. Describes an integration "test" of small groups of Blacks ordering lunch at various restaurants in Laurel, Miss., and what happened in one case.
    • Peter recalled (and re-found) these articles after watching the PBS American Experience installment on President Johnson; in 2014 PBS aired a very moving documentary on the Freedom Summer, both of which can be watched online.
  • 6/6/16: Peter's 2016 updated CV added: 2-page short CV; 24-page full version with all publications (also as page linked in navbar above)
  • 9/10/14: June 5, 2014 interview in the Vienna Wiener Zeitung added: "'Ich habe da viel Gutes gesehen': Stadtplaner Peter Marcuse über den sozialen Wohnbau und die "Gefährlichkeit" von Wolkenkratzern in der Stadt" (with Michael Palfinger)
  • 7/22/2014: added 2009 book & updated links to Herbert Marcuse Papers at Univ. of Frankfurt
  • 5/24/2012: Peter was interviewed by the German newspaper Jungle World. The title of the published article translates as 'You can't wait until the revolution happens when you need a place to sleep right now.' About: "das Konzept »Recht auf Stadt«, den Umgang der »Occupy«-Bewegung mit Obdachlosen und den langen Weg zum Sozialismus."
  • 7/26/11: Since Nov. 2010 Peter has been writing a blog--check it out!
    Also two new items posted here (both 20+ page pdfs, updated to 2011):
  • 8/18/10: I just found this Nov. 27, 2007 clip of Peter speaking at Columbia on youtube: "Empty Buildings, Crowded Shelters" (Aug. 2010: 1214 views; June 2016: 2103 views)
  • 10/19/09: Our family friend Anita Segalman painted a portrait of Peter years ago (1970s?). She has made it available on her new website.
  • 11/25/08: Peter's CV (looks like 2003 version) is available at the University of Darmstadt's site (2016: 2011 web archive version).
  • 11/3/08: "The Right to the City: Prospects for Critical Urban Theory and Practice" [2016: link dead; not in web archive] is a conference being held in Berlin on Nov. 6-8 in honor of Peter's 80th birthday. The link above gives the full program; see also the invitation to the Nov. 6 keynote: pdf, jpg p. 1, p.2.
  • 11/4/07: Oct. 18, 2007 German news report and interview with Peter in Berlin: Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg description page with link; direct link to .smi feed. Here's the blurb: "New-York-Berlin-Konferenz
    Im Rahmen eines Kongresses im Haus der Kulturen der Welt werden seit Donnerstag New York und Berlin miteinander verglichen. Es geht unter anderem um stadtplanerische und soziologische Aspekte. An diesem Abend ist die kulturelle Vielfalt in den Städten ist am Donnerstag das Thema von Stadtplanungsprofessor Peter Marcuse."

    For more information on his conference presentation about ethnic and multicultural diversity in the cities, "Die Dynamiken der Stadt - Fragmentierungen und Konzentrationen New York - Berlin: Kulturelle Vielfalt in urbanen Räumen," see this summary on the Haus der Kulturen der Welt website.

Permission to publish Herbert Marcuse's writings (back to top)

  • Peter Marcuse, Herbert's son (and a professor of urban planning at Columbia University in New York City), is the literary executor for Herbert's estate.
    Requests to publish, republish or translate any of Herbert's writings should be addressed to him at [email protected].
    • The standard contractual requirements are as follows:
      1. The following note must be printed in juxtaposition with the material published or quoted:
        “With permission of the Literary Estate of Herbert Marcuse, Peter Marcuse, Executor, whose permission is required for any further publication. All rights to further publication are retained by the Estate. “
      2. Copyright to the material, if obtained, should be assigned to Literary Estate of Herbert Marcuse, Peter Marcuse, Executor, at the address below.
      3. One copy of the publication in which the material appears should be sent to:
        Peter Marcuse
        932 West Campus Ln
        Goleta, CA 93117 USA
      4. Another copy should be sent to:
        Herbert Marcuse Nachlass
        Archivzentrum der Stadt- und- Universitätsbibliothek
        Bockenheimer Landstrasse 134-138
        60325 Frankfurt/Main        Germany
      5. If royalties are being paid, they should be forwarded to :
        Peter Marcuse
        932 West Campus Ln
        Goleta, CA 93117 USA
  • Herbert's letters and papers are held as the Marcuse Nachlass at the Archivzentrum of City and University Library in Frankfurt, Germany (Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek).
    Peter-Erwin Jansen can grant permission to scholars to see limited-access materials.
    (for more information on Jansen, see the Scholars and Activists page--he is the editor of the German edition of Herbert's unpublished writings)

Peter Marcuse Biography (back to top)

Peter's immigration card, departure
Peter's immigration card: arrival
Peter's immigration card, stamped in Geneva, August 15, 1934, and in New York, Oct. 2, 1934

Peter Marcuse was born in 1928 in Berlin, the son of book sales clerk Herbert Marcuse and mathematician Sophie Wertheim. They soon moved to Freiburg, where Herbert began to write his habilitation (thesis to become a professor) with Martin Heidegger. In 1933, in order to escape the Nazi persecution, they joined the Frankfurt Institut für Sozialforschung and emigrated with it first to Geneva, then via Paris, to New York. When Herbert began working for the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) in Washington, DC, the family moved there, but Peter also lived with family friends in Santa Monica, California.

He attended Harvard University, where he received his BA in 1948, with a major in History and Literature of the 19th Century. In 1949 he married Frances Bessler (whom he met in the home of Franz and Inge Neumann, where she worked as an au pair while studying at NYU).

In 1952 he received his JD from Yale Law School and began practicing law in New Haven and Waterbury, Connecticut. Peter and Frances had 3 children, in 1953, 1957 and 1965.

He received an MA from Columbia University in 1963, and a Master of Urban Studies from the Yale School of Architecture in 1968. He received his PhD from the UC Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning in 1972.

From 1972-1975 he was a Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, and since 1975 at Columbia University. Since 2003 he is semi-retired, with a reduced teaching load.

Texts on this site (back to top)

  • Peter's preface to the 1998 first volume of Herbert's papers (Papers page, vol. 1)
  • Foreword to the 2001 second volume of Herbert's papers (Papers page, vol. 2)
  • Peter's contribution to the November 1998 conference at UC Berkeley was published in the 2004 Critical Reader as "Herbert Marcuse's 'Identity'" (conference info; Critical Reader Page)
  • In February 2003 the socialist German newspaper Neues Deutschland interviewed Peter about how Herbert influenced him (in English and German). (direct link to article in ND, German only)
  • July 2003: Das eigene Leben leben, coverA reflection on the personal, political and symbolic meanings of the burial of Herbert's ashes. This is, if I (Harold) may say so, a very interesting piece.
  • A book of biographical "portraits" based on interviews with the children of prominent parents was published in Germany in 2004. It includes an interview with Peter Marcuse.
    • Das eigene Leben leben: Kinder berühmter Eltern von Brandt bis Seghers, by Gabriele Oertel and Karlen Vesper-Gräske, Militzke Verlag Leipzig
    • €19.90 at
    • publisher's page
    • Werner Olles, "Zu große Schuhe: Nur wenige Sprößlinge berühmter Eltern haben auch etwas zu sagen," (review in Junge Freiheit), writes:
      "Wie fühlen, denken und leben Kinder berühmter Eltern? Nehmen sie das große Erbe an und tragen es weiter? Können sie je mündig werden, gelingt ihnen die Emanzipation von den mit einer Aura versehenen Eltern, gehen sie eigene Wege?" Fragen über Fragen, und die Antwort(en) weiß leider nur der Wind. Die "berühmten Eltern" würden sich vermutlich mehrmals im Grab herumdrehen, käme ihnen zu Ohren, was ihre größtenteils mißratenen Sprößlinge in dem Sammelbändchen "Das eigene Leben leben" alles von sich geben. Nun mag es ja Leser geben, die in Demut auch noch den lächerlichsten Heiligenlegenden lauschen und sich allen möglichen Stuß als hohe Weisheit andrehen lassen, aber was zuviel ist, ist zuviel.
      Wenn beispielsweise Rudolf Bahros Sohn Andrej es bereits für "Dynamik" hält, wenn im Bundestag Rio Reiser und "irgendwann einmal Techno" gehört wird, dann ist damit praktisch eine Zone erreicht, vor deren Grenze die Waffe der Kritik gestreckt werden muß. Und wenn Peter MARCUSE, der Sohn des Theoretikers der eindimensionalen Gesellschaft Herbert MARCUSE den durch nichts zu rechtfertigenden Optimismus seines Vaters teilt, "eine Gesellschaft ohne Krieg, ohne Grausamkeit, ohne Brutalität, ohne Unterdrückung, ohne Dummheit, ohne Häßlichkeit" sei möglich, kann man sich der frevlerischen Vermutung, daß unsere 68er-Idole zu ihren Lebzeiten nicht nur freundliche Schwarmgeister, sondern veritable Knallköpfe waren, July 2006 interview with Peter Marcusenur schwer entziehen. Daß Herbert MARCUSE "niemals dem Terror das Wort geredet hat", darüber könnte man lange streiten. Aber zumindest war sein Verhältnis zur Gewalt der angeblich "unterdrückten Minderheiten" dergestalt, daß Theodor Adorno in vielen Briefen an Max Horkheimer seine Verzweiflung über MARCUSEs positive Haltung gegenüber der "gewaltigen Zersetzungskraft" des gewalttätigen studentischen Protestes ausdrückte."
  • Peter has an essay in the 1994 book edited by Bokina and Lukes, namely "Marcuse on Real Existing Socialism: A Hindsight Look at Soviet Marxism." (see Books About Herbert page)
  • On July 11, 2006, Florian Urban of the Süddeutsche Zeitung published an interview with Peter, "Das Recht auf vier Wände: Peter Marcuse über die Zukunft des städtischen Wohnens" ('The Right to Four Walls: PM on the Future of Urban Living')
Peter's A German Way of Revolution
German Way of Revolution, back coverA German Way of Revolution: DDR-Tagebuch eines Amerikaners (1990), 260 pages
Peter's "Missing Marx," 1991
Missing Marx, contentsMissing Marx: A Personal and Political Journal of a Year in East Germany, 1989-1990 (Monthly Review, 1991), 302 pages
Thumbnail of Peter's Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order?
global cities, back coverGlobalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? (Studies in Urban and Social Change) by Peter Marcuse, Ronald Van Kempen (Blackwell, 2000), 319 pages
Peter, Of States and Cities (2002)
Of States and Cities: The Partitioning of Urban Space (Oxford Geographical and Environmental Studies), 291 pages
by Peter Marcuse, Ronald Van Kempen (Oxford, 2002)
  • teaser: "A spectre is haunting cities around the world: the spectre of globalization."
  • amazon page
Peter, Of States and Cities (2002)
Searching for the Just City: Debates in Urban Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2009), 291 pages
ed & contributions by Peter Marcuse
  • If today's cities are full of injustices, what would a 'Just City' look like? Contributors to this volume, including David Harvey, Peter Marcuse and Susan Fainstein, define the concept, examining it from multiple angles, question it and suggest alternatives.
  • From justice planning to commons planning / by Peter Marcuse
  • Postscript: Beyond the just city to the right to the city / by Peter.
  • amazon page; google books;

page created by Harold Marcuse, Dec. 27, 2004, last updated: see page header
back to top, to Herbert Marcuse homepage, homepage