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Extended Urbanization and the Agrarian Question: Convergences, Divergences, and Openings

Authors: Ayan Meer*, MIT, Swarnabh Ghosh*, Harvard University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Urban Geography, Geographic Theory
Keywords: depeasantization, deruralization, extended urbanization, planetary urbanization, agrarian studies
Session Type: Paper
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The question of urbanization ‘beyond the city’ has generated a lively discussion in the fields of urban studies and geography in recent years. This paper brings a key concept from this discussion – ‘extended urbanization’ – in conversation with distinct yet related concepts from Marxian agrarian studies including ‘global depeasantization’ and ‘deruralization’. We briefly review the ‘classic’ agrarian question in order to situate contemporary agrarian questions within a historical field of capitalist agrarian restructuring since the late-19th century. We then examine a selection of contemporary agrarian scholarship concerned with the interconnectedness of agrarian social relations and urbanization to argue that the study of urbanization ‘beyond the city’ has much to gain from a deeper engagement with this scholarship. To this end, we identify three new openings for further exploration: (i) ‘global depeasantization’ and ‘deruralization’ as the labor dimensions of ‘extended urbanization’; (ii) the existence of banal ‘operational landscapes’ beyond the massive techno-scientific restructuring of hinterlands; and (iii) the possibility of developing a temporal framework for critical urban theory within a broader world-history of capitalist accumulation, beyond the city but also beyond the postwar Euro-Atlantic ‘North’.

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