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Extended Urbanisation: From State Strategies to Everyday Life RC21 2020, Session #61

Extended Urbanisation: From State Strategies to Everyday Life

RC21 2020, Session #61


Christian Schmid ( and Nitin Bathla (, ETH Zurich

For this session, we invite papers to expand the analytical notion of ‘the city’ in the conference thematic through reflecting about the production and experiencing of extended urbanisation. Today, urban research is increasingly confronted with urbanisation processes unfolding far beyond the realm of agglomerations, urban regions, and even mega city-regions. Novel patterns of urbanisation are crystallizing in diverse environments, in remote areas, in agrarian regions, in spaces of seeming wilderness, and in the oceans, thus challenging inherited conceptions of the urban as a bounded zone and a dense settlement type. These observations suggest a radical rethinking of inherited cartographies of the urban, at all spatial scales, encompassing both the built and the unbuilt.

Any form of urbanisation generates not only the concentration of people, means of production, goods, and information, but also a simultaneous proliferation and expansion of the urban fabric resulting in what can be termed as extended urbanisation. This includes the formation of complex and multi-scalar centre-periphery relationships, the blurring and rearticulation of the urban fabric, the production of functionalised logistical spaces, and the progressive enclosure and operationalisation of landscapes to fuel metropolitan growth. New centralities are thus emerging in diverse places concomitant to the bypassing of a wide range of territories that are left behind or have become depleted as a result of the ongoing urbanisation processes. Conversely, areas that are characterised by extended urbanisation can also evolve into new centralities and urban concentrations. The production and experience of urban centres thus needs to be understood in a dialectical relationship with experiences of peripherialisation through the loss and relocation of economic activities, strong and lasting emigration and the weakening of social infrastructure.

A wide range of elaborate state strategies are required to shape, regulate and enforce extended urbanisation through homogenizing the legal frameworks for urbanisation, through opening up new territories for capital accumulation, and through creating conditions for further urban expansion. Of special importance in this context are strategic infrastructural projects, such as large-scale high-speed train and highway systems and complex infrastructural initiatives that impose an overarching logic on the territory.

Furthermore, the production of the urban fabric supports and enables urban practices, which are connecting people and places, changing everyday life in sometimes dramatic ways. This necessitates the analysis of all kinds of movements of people that crisscross the territory and at the same time bind it together and define it. While commuting is important to understand the reach of agglomerations and thus concentrated urbanisation, territories of extended urbanisation are usually characterised by longer, more sporadic and varied forms of mobility.

Today, a multitude of processes of extended urbanization are transforming urban territories in unprecedented and unpredictable ways. It is urgent to get a more comprehensive picture and a more systematic understanding of these processes. We invite contributions that are interested in broadening the explorations of ‘sensing and shaping’ urban spaces in territories of extended urbanisation.

Possible questions guiding your contribution could be:

  • What forms of extended urbanisation could you detect in your research?

  • How do centre-periphery-relationships change through various forms of urbanisation?

  • What state strategies are emerging to shape, regulate and enforce extended urbanisation?

  • How do people adapt to or resist against processes of extended urbanisation?

  • What is ‘the urban’ under conditions of extended urbanisation and how do urban experiences unfold and develop?

I would be grateful if you, your students, or people in your network would consider submitting a paper to our panel. Please ensue that the submitted abstracts must not exceed 250 words. The deadline for submissions is 15 March 2020.

All submissions must be made via the conference website. Pleas make sure to select session number 61: Extended Urbanisation: From State Strategies to Everyday Life.

For conference details and registrations, please visit the conference website.

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