The Urban Fringe: Offline / #Online Politics, Identity and Spatial Practices

Type: Paper
Theme: Ethnonationalism and Exclusion Around the World
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Plaza Ballroom E, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Organizers: Jason Luger
Chairs: Jason Luger

Call for Submissions

This proposed AAG session seeks papers which approach the urban fringe from a variety of perspectives. Especially welcomed are papers that address / engage with topics and themes such as (but not limited to):
• Comparative studies of urban fringe geographies in and across Global South, East and North
• Digital expressions of urban fringe identities (including social media spaces, memes, #hashtags)
• Relationships between digital expressions and context-specific spatial practices
• Masculinities and expressions of urban fringe male identities and ressentiments
• Queer perspectives looking at the urban fringe from the outside-in
• Cultural representations of ‘inner’ versus ‘outer-urban’ via images, symbols, and other media and cultural platforms (e.g. YouTube, Tic Toc; films; tv shows; literature)
• Exploration of political space and political encounters in the urban fringe (buildings, public space; squares; cul-de-sacs; web forums)
• Suburban authoritarianism: practices, processes, places
Sponsored by: the Political Geography Specialty Group

If interested, please send an abstract of 200-300 words to by Sunday, October 20th and the session will be finalized soon after.

Anderson, E. (2011) The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life, New York: W.W. Norton.
Brookings Institution (2017) Testimony: The Changing Geography of US Poverty, Kneebone, E., Feb. 15th, testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Human Resources.
Dines, M. and Vermeulen, T. (2013) New Suburban Stories, London: Bloomsbury.
Ehrenhalt, A. (2012) The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City, New York: Vintage Books.
Fernandes, L. (2004). The politics of forgetting: Class politics, state power and the restructuring of urban space in India. Urban Studies, 41(12), 2415–2430Keil
Heiman, R. (2015) Driving After Class: Anxious Times in an American Suburb, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jackson, H. (1985) Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Keil, R. (2017) Suburban Planet: Making the World from the Outside-In, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Lefebvre, H. (1991) The Production of Space (Vol. 142). Oxford: Blackwell.
Smith, N. (2005) The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City. London: Routledge.
Tan, K.P. (2008) Meritocracy and elitism in a global city: Ideological shifts in Singapore. International Political Science Review, 29(1), pp.7-27.
Wyly, E.K. (2018) The new planetary suburban frontier. Urban Geography, pp.1-9.


The urban fringe –the zone between city and rural, sometimes known as outer-suburb, sometimes as periphery or the peri-urban - is a vast and complex geography. There has been a recent focus on the global suburb as a crucial lens for exploration (Dines and Vermeulen, 2013; Keil, 2017; E.K. Wyly, 2018). Meanwhile the revanchism (Smith, 2005) of the inner-urban and inner-suburb have led to new patterns of suburban marginalization and increasing poverty – a trend long seen in informal settlements of the Global South and the banlieues of Western Europe, but now observed in North America as well (Ehrenhalt, 2012; Brookings, 2016). Political eruptions, such as right-wing populisms and new forms of authoritarianism, have been generated from the urban fringe: from Brexit’s heartlands to Trump’s exurbs. Questions of fringe identity are central to these movements, and these identities are anchored both in the built environment and via digital networks: from the ‘crabgrass frontier’ (Jackson, 1985) to the #crabgrassfrontier.

Thus, the urban fringe emerges as an important site of politics, identity formation, and spatial practices. Changing economic and social geographies have given rise to new alienations and feelings of resentment and otherness between ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ urban. Sociological frameworks such as Rachel Heiman’s (2015) exurban class anxieties and Elijah Anderson’s (2011) ‘cosmopolitan’ versus ‘ethno’ invite extensions to / from Global South and non-Western contexts (e.g. KP Tan’s 2008 exploration of ‘cosmopolitan’ versus ‘heartlander’ in Singapore; or L. Fernandes’s 2004 survey of Mumbai’s suburban political economy).

Lefebvre (1991) suggested that centrality is movable. Maybe the urban fringe is no longer the fringe; perhaps the crabgrass frontier is a new center.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Wanjing Chen*, University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Right to Speculate: Entangling Chinese Capital with Peri-urban Land Politics in Vientiane Laos 15 8:00 AM
Presenter Coleman Allums*, University of Georgia, Scott N Markley, University of Georgia, The New Suburban Secession: A Postfascist Turn in Atlanta’s Cityhood Movement 15 8:15 AM
Presenter Mengqi Wang*, Duke Kunshan University, “Rigid Demand”: Finding Homes in China’s Urban Fringe 15 8:30 AM
Presenter Anthony Boanada-Fuchs*, GIMLA, Localizing the Urban Fringe of an Indian Metro-city: of Actors, Regulations, and Space 15 8:45 AM

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