Where is Urban Politics?


We outline the rationale for reopening the issue of the spatiality of the ‘urban’ in urban politics. There is a long tradition of arguing about the distinctive political qualities of urban sites, practices and processes. Recent work often relies on spatial concepts or metaphors that anchor various political phenomena to cities while simultaneously putting the specificity of the urban itself in question. This symposium seeks to extend debates about the relationship between the urban and the political. Instead of asking ‘what is urban politics?’, seeking a definition of the urban as a starting point we begin by asking ‘where is urban politics?’. This question orients all of the contributions to this symposium, and it allows each to trace diverse political dimensions of urban life and living beyond the confines of ‘the city’ as classically conceived. The symposium engages with ‘the urban question’ through diverse settings and objects, including infrastructures, in‐between spaces, professional cultures, transnational and postcolonial spaces and spaces of sovereignty. Contributions draw on a range of intellectual perspectives, including geography, urban studies, political science and political theory, anthropology, cultural studies, sociology, planning and environmental studies — indicating the range of intellectual traditions that can and do inform the investigation of the urban/political nexus.