Volume 44  Issue 4  July 2020

In This Issue...

We are in the midst of transformation. All across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened the contours of social and economic inequality, fueling the accumulation of wealth and expanding the exploitation of ‘essential’ workers. In the United States, the uprising for Black Lives has trained national attention on state-sanctioned violence and demanded a reckoning with racial capitalism. There is no turning away. There is no turning back. In such times, does the slow pace of academic research and publication have relevance? Yes. It does. This collection of articles points to issues that are of central importance to the present moment and regarding which urban studies has much to say. One of those key issues is land. The article by Gillsepie and that by Waley and Jiang draw attention to the commodification of state land and the role of state entrepreneurialism in real-estate frontiers. As Rodenbiker shows, such land-based accumulation often takes place in the guise of green development as ‘urban ecological enclosures’. Hudani’s article reminds us that such forms of accumulation are accelerated in ‘post-crisis geographies’, a lesson worth keeping in mind for the present moment. The current narratives of crisis, especially those pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, have generated new discussion of the urban, including urban density. Quite a bit of the work of IJURR, as exemplified by this issue, can be instructive on this matter. Mukhopadhyay et al., for example, demonstrate the significance of thinking about ‘non-metropolitan Indian geographies’, thus recasting understandings of rural and urban. The article by Pérez is highly instructive on the issue of urban density and its possible ‘socio-material epistemologies’. Finally, the present moment has revealed the role of mutual aid networks and urban commons. Amidst the ruins of rich but failed states, such infrastructures have proven to be vital in sustaining life. The articles by Streule et al. on popular urbanization and Pikner et al. on urban commoning are relevant to such considerations. But what is at stake is not just survival but transformation. In his article on non-privatized land systems, Ghertner boldly argues for an urban imaginary that can build ‘less commodified urban futures’. Specifically, he is interested in understanding tenures that are ‘capable of fostering pro-poor agglomeration economies and generating socialities that exceed the model of the separative self that is hegemonic in more propertied settings’. Indeed, this is the project of radical urban studies at hand and I hold hope that IJURR will have a role to play in it.

— Ananya Roy


As ongoing intertwined crises exacerbate and expose (yet again) the unequal value placed on human lives and (non)urban places, the three timely pieces in this issue’s Interventions section offer powerful insights on the relationships between humanity, value, and the urban. One theme linking these pieces is extension—extension of the urban into the nonurban, the extension of ‘newcomers’ into the city, and the extension of Black bodies into their surrounds. In a piece that speaks almost hauntingly to the current moment, AbdouMaliq Simone ties these forms of extension together through the concept of extended urbanization. He proposes, rather optimistically, that the ‘histories of the ways in which Black bodies have extended themselves into their surrounds—not in the interest of individual or contractual consolidation, such as in the familiar tropes of freedom and citizenship, but in a strategic detachment from the human and a collective enactment of an unhuman earthly sensibility—may offer an image of another urban life’ (p. 761).

The possibility of another urban life—and the institutionalized forms of power that undermine it—underlies Philip Lawton’s critical analysis of the Quito Papers. Lawton points to the rather limited view of urbanization and city-making reflected in the Quito Papers, particularly in their continued idealization of ‘European’ city‐making and the primacy they give to spatial forms over messy social processes and lived experiences. The visibility and weight of the Quito Papers in outlining a ‘new urban agenda’ attaches value to certain urban forms and ways of being urban, while rendering others illegible. Invisibility is central to Robbie Peters’ identification of a ‘data-based urbanism’ that has similarly devalued illegible forms of humanity in the city. Tracing the urban development of Surabaya, Indonesia, since 1950 and through rich ethnographic vignettes of the present, Peters demonstrates that after the 1998 Asian financial crisis it was no longer sufficient that urban migrants, so called ‘newcomers’, were recognized in the heterotopic spaces of the kampung, but that that they now needed recognition or legibility at the city scale. While Peters demonstrates that ‘the desire to smoothly traverse the city emerged from the colonial experience of living in an urban society divided by race’ (p. 746), AbdouMaliq’s essay on (non)urban humans reflects on how these traversings, or extensions, may be opening up new possibilities for the urban. Exploring ‘domains of intersection among that which appears “left out” of urbanization’s purported advantages’ (p. 755), Simone suggests that the (non)urban human, epitomized through Black practices, may allow us to value other ways of being human.

— Liza Weinstein


Lively Lands : The Spatial Reproduction Squeeze and the Failure of the Urban Imaginary

Subaltern Urbanization: Indian Insights for Urban Theory

The Real Estate Frontier

‘The Miracle of Density’: The Socio‐material Epistemics of Urban Densification

Who Builds Cities in China? How Urban Investment and Development Companies Have Transformed Shanghai

Popular Urbanization: Conceptualizing Urbanization Processes Beyond Informality

The Green Masterplan: Crisis, State Transition and Urban Transformation in Post‐Genocide Rwanda

Urban Ecological Enclosures : Conservation Planning, Peri-urban Displacement, and Local State Formations in China

Urban Commoning as a Vehicle Between Government Institutions and Informality: Collective Gardening Practices in Tampere and Narva


Tracing the Provenance of Urbanist Ideals: A Critical Analysis of The Quito Papers

Capturing the City

(Non)Urban Humans: Questions for a Research Agenda (the Work the Urban Could Do)

Book Reviews

Mark Graham, Rob Kitchin, Shannon Mattern and Joe Shaw (eds.) 2019: How To Run a City Like Amazon and Other Fables. London: Meatspace Press James Ash, Rob Kitchin and Agnieszka Leszczynski (eds.) 2019: >Digital Geographies. London: Sage Beer, David 2019: The Data Gaze: Capitalism, Power and Perception. London: Sage

Garrido, Marco Z. 2019: The Patchwork City: Class, Space, and Politics in Metro Manila. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press

Holland, Alisha C. 2017: Forbearance as Redistribution: The Politics of Informal Welfare in Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

K. Murat Güney, Roger Keil and Murat Üçoğlu (eds.) 2019: Massive Suburbanization: (Re)Building the Global Periphery. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Ferretti, Federico 2018: Anarchy and Geography: Reclus and Kropotkin in the UK. London: Routledge

Barnett, Clive 2017: The Priority of Injustice: Locating Democracy in Critical Theory. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press