Critical Urban Theory in the ‘Urban Age’: Ruptures, Tensions, and Messy Solidarities


This symposium extends debates over Neil Brenner‘s and Christian Schmid’s planetary urbanization framework as ‘a new epistemology of the urban’. The contributors find much that is provocative and productive in the planetary urbanization approach as it has been advanced thus far. They also have concerns about the ways in which this approach has the potential to limit the bounds of urban theory (intentionally or not). Thus the collection extends existing engagements (most notably via a 2018 special issue of the journal Society and Space) with planetary urbanization by scholars working in minor theoretical registers as an effort to offer positive critique in the context of elaborated alternatives. The intent of the collection is, in short, to offer reflections on urban scholarship in the ‘urban age’ that resist some planetary urbanization theorists’ call to pin down urban theory and instead might leave it open to ‘radical alterity’. The introduction, four research articles and one commentary that make up the symposium cover such topics as urban migrant labor, the multiple temporalities of urban development, caste and urban ecology, the politics of knowledge production, and theorizing as cosmopolitan practice.