Towards a Critique of Geospatial Ideology

Neil Brenner | Nikos Katsikis

Research at Urban Theory Lab.

In the early twenty-first century, urbanization is being generalized across places, landscapes, territories and scales. These newly emergent geographies of urbanization are superseding inherited patterns of cityness and exploding the traditional boundary between the city and the non-city.

As emphasized by global city theorists, economic geographers and agglomeration economists, large-scale metropolitan regions remain major engines of early twenty-first century capitalist development. Processes of agglomeration and sociospatial concentration are as fundamental as ever to the basic logics of capital accumulation.

Nonetheless, under contemporary conditions, traditional visions of the city as a distinctive, coherently bounded type of settlement space are being rendered obsolete. The long taken-for-granted separation of such densely concentrated settlement zones from the putatively non-urban spaces (suburban, peri-urban, rural or ‘natural’) that surround them has become thoroughly problematic.

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