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This edited collection critically discusses the relevance of, and the potential for identifying conceptual common ground between dominant urban theory projects – namely Neo-Marxian accounts on planetary urbanization and alternative ‘Southern’ post-colonial and post-structuralist projects. Its main objective is to combine different urban knowledge to support and inspire an integrative research approach and a conceptual vocabulary which allows understanding the complex characteristics of diverse emerging urban spaces.

Drawing on in-depth case study material from across the world, the different chapters in this volume disentangle planetary urbanization and apply it as a research framework to the context-specific challenges faced by many `ordinary' urban settings. In addition, through their focus on both Northern- and Southern urban spaces, this edited collection creates a truly global perspective on crucial practice-relevant topics such as the co-production of urban spaces, the ‘right to diversity’ and the ‘right to the urban’ in particular local settings.



Chapter 1. Introduction

The first section of this introductory chapter offers some empirical and theoretical background to this edited volume. It is argued that in our contemporary world urbanisation not only refers to the territorial expansion of cities but to processes occurring in previously non-urban settings. So far, this has been studied through a variety of distinct theoretical perspectives, including Neo-Marxian accounts on planetary urbanisation, which understand these processes as inevitable outcomes of capitalism, and alternative ‘Southern’ projects based mainly on post-structural and post-colonial approaches, which emphasise local particularities of emerging urban spaces. The second part of this chapter outlines both the extent to which the different contributions in this edited volume engage with these different theoretical perspectives, mainly through empirical contextualisation, and how they seek to overcome problems of universalism and particularism in the study of emerging urban spaces. Reflecting on the different contributions of this edited volume, the final section proposes guidelines for future research. It calls for an ‘open reading’ of Henri Lefebvre’s ouevre and the need to mobilise what is referred to herein as (1) the right to the urban, (2) difference and pluralism, and (3) the naturalisation of the urban. Taken together, we argue that this enables us to view the urban as a relational and co-produced configuration, which is in constant interaction both with other urban settings elsewhere and with the environment in which it is situated.
Philipp Horn, Ana Claudia Cardoso, Paola Alfaro d’Alençon

Chapter 2. The Ecumenical ‘Right to the City’: Urban Commons and Intersectional Enclosures in Athens and Istanbul

In recent years, discussions about urban commons and new enclosures have revolved mainly around the Marxist notion of ‘accumulation by dispossession’, and conceptualisations of the commons as a new version of the ‘right to the city’. Yet, during prominent recent urban revolts, protestors not only claimed urban space from sovereign power but also tried to invent common spaces which go beyond cultural, class, gender, religious and political identities. Such mobilisations demonstrate the ecumenical character of the right to the city, which affects both local and global scales. In parallel, neoliberal urban policies tend to appropriate common space through creativity, and urban-marketing policies with the aim of improving the competitiveness of cities. Consequently, the discourse about the right to the city and common space should be reconsidered, as it is becoming an ecumenical and hybrid arena of urban conflict. Therefore, this chapter considers common space in a Lefebvrian trialectic conceptualisation of perceived–conceived–lived space, deploying a framework based on intersectional approaches. In doing so, the chapter examines emerging common space and intersectional spatialities of race, sex, class and culture in Athens and Istanbul. In the current era of global crisis, there is a tension in both cities between neoliberal city and rebel city. They represent exemplary places for neoliberal urban policies and, simultaneously, constitute the epicentre of riots and rebels, such as the Indignados of 2011 in Athens and the 2013 Gezi Park uprising in Istanbul, which push the boundaries of social meanings of the right to the city and common space.
Charalampos Tsavdaroglou

Chapter 3. Emerging Urban Indigenous Spaces in Bolivia: A Combined Planetary and Postcolonial Perspective

This chapter draws attention to processes that have, in recent decades, contributed to the almost complete urbanisation of previously isolated, rural indigenous peoples. Indigenous urbanisation trends are illustrated through the case study of Bolivia. Here, indigenous peoples inhabit diverse territories of concentrated and extended urbanisation where they are often affected by patterns of social exclusion and ethno-racial discrimination. Urban indigenous peoples are, however, by no means passive victims of exclusion and discrimination but, in Bolivia at least, they are active agents of political change who contest for specific rights within the urban environments in which they live. To analyse complex indigenous urbanisation processes and associated everyday urban indigenous politics, this chapter deploys a pluralist perspective and combines planetary urbanisation theory—which allows for an understanding of patterns of socio-capitalist restructuring of indigenous territories and associated anti-capitalist urban indigenous resistance—with postcolonial approaches—which allow understanding ongoing tendencies of ethno-spatial segregation and associated decolonial indigenous responses. The chapter concludes by drawing attention to lessons from this case study for future theoretically informed and empirically grounded research on indigenous urbanisation in Bolivia and elsewhere.
Philipp Horn

Chapter 4. The Urban as a Concrete Utopia? Co-production and Local Governance in Distinct Urban Geographies: Transnational Learning from Chile and Germany

Reflecting on empirical material from Chile and Germany, this chapter combines practical insights for an analysis of co-productive urban projects with the aim to generate insights for the ‘right to the city’, a concept that has travelled from Europe to North and later Latin America. We argue not only for different avenues to understand the right to the city, but also emphasise that there is a need to reflect on how the concept has been reformulated by different local interactions. Emphasis is placed on how civil society actors are locally connected to their cities—in our case mainly Berlin and Santiago, while at the same time engaged in networks of collaboration and knowledge exchange via ‘encounters’. In this chapter, reflections on encounters allow shedding light on emerging struggles but also negotiation practices between different actors in the co-production processes. Co-productive practices might certainly entail a risk of underestimating broader structural changes in urban development—which, at times, resonate with neoliberal individualism. Yet, our findings also reveal that such practices bring to light important elements of the right to the city, especially claims for being within the urban core and democratic engagement in city-building. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre’s terminology we, hence, argue that these practices reflect the right to centrality and the right to participation; they represent encounters that emerge in constant struggle, contestation and negotiation processes. Understood like this, the urban becomes a concrete utopia—a possibility, a promise to be constantly produced and reproduced.
Paola Alfaro d’Alençon, Ernesto López Morales

Chapter 5. Continuity and Change in Decentralist Urbanisation: Exploring the Critical Potential of Contemporary Urban Theory Through the London Docklands Development Corporation

The task of this paper is twofold: The first is to parse out aspects of continuity and change in the decentralist urbanisation of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC), through utilising an experimental methodological combination of two urban epistemologies: planetary urbanisation and assemblage urbanism. The second task, responding to the first, is to reflect on this theoretical approach and thus assess these much-debated epistemologies of the urban. To contextualise decentralism, this chapter includes a brief review of the new towns, an influential type of urbanisation, which preceded the LDDC, and of the lobbying activity of their representative organisation, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) amidst the ‘crisis of the inner city’ in the 1970s and 1980s, and briefly surveys plans for Docklands from the 1970s. This history of decentralism, as a form of urban transformation, is framed in light of reification and the idea of second nature. The assemblage urbanist side of the methodology utilised by the chapter places particular focus on the retaining wall—an overlooked infrastructure that was key to the rehabilitation of both docks and rivers in East London. The chapter shows how retaining walls were subject to a perpendicular reorientation under the tenure of the LDDC, where a decentralist typology persisted within the post-industrial context. The chapter concludes that despite their political differences, the LDDC in fact came closest to realising plans for the ‘decongested’, low-density inner city advocated for by the TCPA in the 1970s, and ends with a reflection on the approach utilised and its future potential.
David Mountain

Chapter 6. Comparing at What Scale? The Challenge for Comparative Urbanism in Central Asia

Can research on cities in a specific region contribute to comparative urban literature? This chapter focuses on the intersections between comparative urbanism and the academic investigation of Central Asian cities. I argue that the inherited structures of scholarly activities and a lack of financing have created an epistemological predicament within the region; as a result, Central Asian cities have been addressed, if at all, primarily by scholars based in the West. Their limited and isolated findings have not yet found their way into a larger debate on comparative urbanism. This article is, therefore, an attempt to reflect on the ‘state of art’ when it comes to Central Asian urbanism. In the past 20 years, comparative work in urban studies has produced interesting and valuable insights into the potential synergies between postcolonial, political–economic and cultural/post-structural analyses. Comparative urbanism, while emphasising the multiple trajectories out of which different cities are forged, prompts us to look beyond enduring bounded entities and outdated epistemologies by focusing on different cities. Jennifer Robinson, for example lists ‘post-socialist cities’ among ‘divisive categories’ and suggests that we ‘move beyond’ such categories and the hierarchies which they imply. These inspiring thoughts, however, clash with the conventions of the publishing industry and the priorities of academic existence. In scholarly literature and in teaching, various geographical boundaries persist, leading to the ‘lumping’ of cities into regions. The challenge remains for comparative work in urban studies to become more grounded in the disarray of geographic scales and historical periods. Accordingly, from a Central Asian perspective, this chapter explores the potential for a regionally oriented analysis to offer new insights into the methodology and conceptualisation of comparison.
Elena Trubina

Chapter 7. Growth of Tourism Urbanisation and Implications for the Transformation of Jamaica’s Rural Hinterlands

This chapter considers the relevance of the concept of ‘planetary urbanisation’ in a context where ‘tourism urbanisation’ is taking place in the north coast region of Jamaica. This specific process of urbanisation may be generalised to other tourism-dependent small island developing states where the tourism industry has become a key sector for economic development and influences spatial change. It is argued in this chapter that, in the context of small island states, tourism urbanisation poses huge challenges in terms of its impact on land resources for agricultural production and on social change in local communities. This analysis thus presents an early warning for other small island states in the Caribbean region that can ill-afford to become entirely urbanised, from both a cultural and an economic perspective.
Sheere Brooks

Chapter 8. Formats of Extended Urbanisation in Ocean Space

Rather than painting a picture of the urban planet with generalised brushstrokes, planetary urbanization calls for critical, localised studies that can offer new understandings of urban forces on the ground for which our inherited epistemological frameworks are at a loss to accommodate. In particular, Brenner and Schmid argue that due to methodological cityism, emerging formations and constellations outside recognised agglomerations have long been overlooked in urban studies. This chapter argues that urban formats unfolding in ocean space are an exemplary case of extended urbanisation, one of the three ‘moments’ of planetary urbanisation articulated by Brenner and Schmid. Offshore, the contradictions of the undecipherable yet planetary scale of urbanisation processes come sharply into focus. Channels of infrastructure delivering energy, waste, goods and materials to and from central areas of settlement have been forged through ocean space, thereby also constantly reconfiguring this liquid terrain. Through case studies in the Barents and Baltic Seas, informed by the topics of seascape, networks, technology and ecology, concrete insights into these spatial mechanisms are offered. As a result, specific conditions of ocean urbanisation are proposed, both as a synthesis of these four dominant and interrelating components interacting with the regional sea and also as a deeper understanding of several universalized properties of extended urbanisation.
Nancy Couling

Chapter 9. Urban Tropical Forest: Where Nature and Human Settlements Are Assets for Overcoming Dependency, but How Can Urbanisation Theories Identify These Potentials?

This paper focuses on the extensive urbanisation of the Eastern Amazon, where human settlements date back to an era when total cooperation existed between man and nature, a time when land, water, forest and people were perceived as inseparable parts of the whole. However, this harmonious situation has ceased to exist following several episodes of colonisation and modernisation. During the last initiative to integrate the region with the rest of the country, it was classified under the social divisions of Brazilian labour as agrarian and suitable for the mineral extraction industry. Furthermore, the recent overlap between the interests of privately owned global companies and federal investments in logistics, and of the pattern of Portuguese colonisation, has led to a process of hybrid urbanisation. The historical pattern of population dispersion has also suffered modifications whereby connections have been established that link previously isolated settlements to national centres and global metropolises. Such practices have acted against all current data on climate change and have disrespected nature and the environment to such an extent that selective modernization and its reverse, informal occupation, have increased the spread of deforestation, pollution, the siltation of rivers and the reduction of surface water volumes. This article demonstrates how these transformations have been responsible for the exclusion of those groups forced onto the margins of modernisation: people born in the region who depend on the biophysical base for their livelihood, including indigenous peoples, caboclos (the offspring of indigenous and Portuguese peoples), peasants and traditional communities who live in rural areas or were pushed into urban areas once the countryside had been restructured. The article also seeks to expose local resistance to this process, thereby revealing how extensive urbanisation may evolve from mere economic integration towards comprehensive urbanisation, capable of creating new forms of citizenship and a respect for nature, thereby transforming it into the extensive naturalisation of the urban.
Ana Claudia Cardoso, Harley Silva, Ana Carolina Melo, Danilo Araújo

Chapter 10. Urbanisation, Sustainability and Development: Contemporary Complexities and Diversities in the Production of Urban Space

This chapter reframes concepts of urbanisation, sustainability and development. Focusing on Brazil, in which social space has not been entirely transformed into abstract space, it argues for a conceptualisation that moves beyond present urban-industrial society: the urban-natural, geared towards the urban-utopia. From this approach comes a window to reframe the word sustainability, based on the disalienation of people and the reconnection between human and nature. It also requires the visibility of the life spaces (urbanised) of invisible peoples engaged in multiple everyday activities not valued, or even seen, in capitalist societies. Those activities are related to old/previous knowledges connected to everyday life and social reproduction that depend on rooted uses of new technical and informational resources. From this point on, it should be possible to change the focus of development (de-involvement) from capital accumulation to the pursuing of happiness and social well-being, from exogenous to endogenous demands, implying people’s reconnection (or re-involvement) with their life space. It also implies replacing classical claims for equality with claims for the right to diversity, considering that diversity opens new possibilities for differences, rooted in human and non-human nature. In this context, extended (and planetary) urbanisation may truly spread citizenship beyond cities and lead to the replacement of anthropocentrism by ecocentrism. Considering the complexity of contemporary society experiences, the suggested matching of extended urbanisation with extended naturalisation might become a virtual version of the urban-utopia, where the urban merges in nature, to become concrete utopia, rather than disappear.
Roberto Luís Monte-Mór


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