Volume 46  Issue 4  July 2022

In This Issue...

I am pleased to introduce IJURR’s July 2022 issue, which offers insights into urban governance and territorial control from a range of analytic perspectives and geographic locations.

This issue’s eight research articles and seven Interventions pieces draw from research in China, Europe, South Asia and North America to reveal the localized practices and underlying logics used to establish, contest and fortify authority and control over territories and populations. Sidestepping more institutional perspectives on urban governance, these pieces reveal some of the unexpected or barely legible ways that local administrators, state authorities, local elites and private developers assert their control over urban space. While each paper offers a distinct, empirically-grounded intervention into understandings of urban governance, when read together they reveal four broad strategies used to enact territorial authority at the urban and regional scale: imaginative work, temporal manipulation, securitization and forgetting/unseeing.

The first set of articles highlight the imaginative work entailed in fortifying boundaries and enacting control within them. In the first article of the issue, Alena Coblence and Luděk Sýkora draw on research in the Prague Metropolitan Region (PMR) of Czechia to reveal the performativity of regional governance. In the absence of formal jurisdictions, Coblence and Sýkora highlight the material-discursive practices, including the advocacy, framing, customization, implementation and evaluation, that help draw multiple governing agencies and conflicting interests together into unified entities like the PMR. Xiaobo Su and Yi Miao, meanwhile, reveal the territorial politics and experimentation at play in China’s border cities. Drawing on research in Ruili in Yunnan province, adjacent to northern Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin states, this article reveals how international borders can be both softened and hardened to facilitate cross-border exchange alongside securitized modes of control. Further contributing to imaginative strategies of control, Sabrina Rahmawan-Huizenga and Dara Ivanova draw our attention to urban labs as experimental sites of urban governance. Revealing the ‘imaginative work’, including the branding, dreaming and assimilating undertaken in Rotterdam’s urban lab, this article reveals the exclusionary practices that shape who is able to imagine and experiment in the city.

The next set of articles draw on case studies in Yangzhou, China, and Cape Sidero, Crete, to reveal the maintenance of territorial control through temporal manipulation. Yunpeng Zhang’s insightful piece reveals the ways that developers and local officials in Yangzhou have established control over new city construction and megaproject development by manipulating project timelines. Acknowledging that project temporalities can be incoherent, messy and contradictory, Zhang’s analysis of the Guangling New City project reveals that they can also operate as arenas of control, by sequencing and timing development activities to maximize private gain. Ioanna P. Korfiati similarly reveals how private developers in the tourist destination of Cape Sidero utilize development temporalities to maintain monopoly control over land and real estate capital. Contrasting with the short-term horizons frequently enacted to leverage profits, Korfiati finds that developers also extend these time horizons; in this case, by holding land for decades to exploit emergent rent gaps. Temporal modes of control are also highlighted in the Interventions collection (described below), which reveals the slow violences entailed in the governance of urban waters in the former-colonial port cities of Mumbai and Philadelphia.

The next two pieces draw on case studies from Pakistan and Mexico to reveal the enactment of territorial forms of control and hegemony through securitization. Laurent Gayer and Sophie Russo’s piece, ‘Let’s Beat Crime Together: Corporate Mobilizations for Security in Karachi’, highlights the collective actions undertaken by Karachi’s industrial elites to appropriate policing and security practices to protect their private lives, properties and economic activities. In doing so, they reveal the ways that Karachi’s new regime of industrial securitization are transforming both labor relations and urban citizenship.  In the next piece, Valeria Guarneros-Meza and Alke Jenss draw on case studies of Policia Comunitaria in Mexico’s Guerrero State and neighborhood vigilantism in Oaxaca City to reveal the production of hegemony through both securitization and informality. The authors find that these hegemonic practices are not only produced by the structurally powerful and politically connected, but are reproduced by subaltern groups through the normalization of violence in their daily lives.

The final research article and Interventions collection draw attention to political logics of ambiguity and forgetting/unseeing that have been leveraged to maintain control over urban territories and populations. Yi Jin and Yimin Zhao’s piece on the post-2020 revival of street businesses in Chengdu, China, reveals that the state’s unexpected acceptance of informal market practices is actually rooted in the political economy of control and efforts to preserve its own authority and legitimacy. Further dismantling unproductive binaries that position centralized state control against urban informality, these findings reveal the ambiguities implicated in the enactment of territorial authority.

Also in this issue, the rich and much anticipated Interventions collection, ‘Enduring Harm: Unlikely Comparisons, Slow Violence and the Administration of Urban Injustice’, highlights the practice of forgetting/unseeing to explain the governance of urban waters and production of vulnerable and disposable populations in Philadelphia and Mumbai. Comprised of an insightful introduction by guest editors Nikhil Anand, Bethany Wiggin, Lalitha Kamath and Pranjal Deeksit, five detailed empirical essays, and a rich coda by Malini Ranganathan reflecting on the attendant ‘racial ecologies’, this Interventions collection highlights the active forms of territorial control implicated in the production of toxic urbanscapes. Drawing together research on Philadelphia and Mumbai, two former-colonial port cities not often put in conversation, the collection traces the historical processes, colonial logics, forms of expert knowledge and regulatory modes of control ‘that have marginalized populations and placed them in the path of harmful waters’.

Overall, the articles and essays in IJURR’s July 2022 issue offer rich insights that deepen our understandings of the production, fortification and implications of territorial control, and will continue to shape debates on urban governance.

— Liza Weinstein


The Performativity of Metropolization: How Material-Discursive Practices Institutionalize the Prague Metropolitan Region

Border Control: The Territorial Politics of Policy Experimentation in Chinese Border Cities

The Urban Lab: Imaginative Work in the City

Temporal Politics and Injustice in Mega Urbanization: Lessons from Yangzhou, China

Landscapes on Hold: Opening up Monopoly Rent Gaps on Crete’s Cape Sidero

‘Let’s Beat Crime Together’: Corporate Mobilizations for Security in Karachi

Transformed Security Practices: Informalization in the Production of Hegemony and Place

The Informal Constitution Of State Centrality: Governing Street Businesses in (Post-)Pandemic Chengdu, China


ENDURING HARM: Unlikely Comparisons, Slow Violence and the Administration of Urban Injustice



TOXICITY 1: On Ambiguity and Sewage in Mumbai’s Urban Sea

TOXICITY 2: The Violence of Thresholds in Philadelphia

AFTER THE RIGHT TO WATER: Rethinking the State and Justice in Mumbai

CODA: The Racial Ecologies of Urban Wetlands