Provincializing Critical Urban Theory: Extending the Ecosystem of Possibilities


Advocating a provincialization of critical urban theory, we seek to move beyond current polarizations and disputes over the basis of urban theory, creating space to take seriously the possibility that no single theory suffices to account for the variegated nature of urbanization and cities across the world. Such provincialization requires a serious engagement with both mainstream and critical Anglophone urban theory, challenging the seeming naturalness of knowledge claims through rigorous theoretical and empirical scrutiny from the standpoint of peripheral perspectives located outside the core. This entails recognizing the existence of a shifting ecosystem of critical urban theories, putting these into even-handed critical conversation with one another. The collective resilience of urban theory will be dependent upon ongoing engagement across such diversity. At the heart of such an ecosystem are shifts in practice, seeking a new comparative analytic that destabilizes the universalism of the dominant norm, against which all other exemplars are to be compared, with the imperative of taking the field seriously.