Rethinking Urban Space-Time 2: Mega-urbanization in urban theory

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Urban Geography Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 5:35 PM / 6:50 PM
Room: Plaza Court 2, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Organizers: John Lauermann, Martin Müller
Chairs: John Lauermann

Call for Submissions

Abstracts should be submitted to John Lauermann ( and Martin Müller ( We are happy to discuss ideas informally as well, so please feel free to write.


Cities around the world are increasingly shaped by mega-scale urban transformations. Globally accelerating rates of urbanization have led to rapid landscape change through mega-projects (Lin & Xu 2019, Koch 2018), mega-events (Müller & Gaffney 2018; Viehoff & Poyntner 2016), large-scale gentrification (Lees et al. 2016, Shin & Kim 2016), new-build cities (Datta 2019, Moser 2018), sprawling metropolitan infrastructures (Wachsmuth 2017, Wiig & Silver 2019), and grand scale governance agendas (Enright 2016, Müller 2017). These forms of mega-urbanization are especially pronounced in cities of the global South and global East (Datta & Shaban 2017, Friedman & Sorenson 2019, Molotch & Ponzini 2019). Yet they are, in many ways, a global characteristic of the urban age (Harrison & Hoyler 2015, Lauermann 2018).

Mega-urbanization is a new normal for contemporary cities across a diverse range of geographies. It is not simply a larger version of ‘regular’ urban processes, but, rather, constitutes a qualitatively distinct form of urban transformation. By extension, simply ‘scaling up’ pre-existing theory may not effectively interrogate the dynamics of mega-urbanization. There is a pressing need to develop nuanced insight into the mega-scale, and its relationship with the contemporary urban condition. Given its increasing prevalence in urban transformation, what role should mega-urbanization play in urban theorizing? What might constitute an urban theory of the mega-scale?

The papers in this session will advance urban theory of the mega-scale. We welcome papers on topics including, but not limited to:
• Comparative analysis of mega-scale urbanism
• Political economies and ecologies of mega-urbanization
• Provincializing the analysis of grand/world class/iconic urbanisms
• Deconstructing and reconstructing urban utopian thinking
• Fast and slow urbanism, smart and dumb cities
• Mega-urbanization in the suburbs
• Vertical urbanism and skyline/subterranean spaces
• Gentrification, displacement, and segregation at the mega-scale

Datta, A. (2019). Postcolonial urban futures: Imagining and governing India’s smart urban age. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 37(3), 393-410.
Datta, A., & Shaban, A. (Eds.). (2016). Mega-urbanization in the global south: Fast cities and new urban utopias of the postcolonial state. Taylor & Francis.
Enright, T. (2016). The making of Grand Paris: Metropolitan urbanism in the twenty-first century. MIT Press.
Friedmann, J., & Sorensen, A. (2019). City unbound: emerging mega-conurbations in Asia. International Planning Studies
Koch, N. (2018). The geopolitics of spectacle: Space, synecdoche, and the new capitals of Asia. Cornell University Press.
Lauermann, J. (2018). Geographies of mega‐urbanization. Geography Compass, 12(8), e12396.
Lin, G. C., & Xu, Z. (2019). Remaking China’s urban space of the spectacle: Mega-events, temporary growth, and uneven spatial transformation in Shanghai. Geoforum, 102, 126-136.
Molotch, H., & Ponzini, D. (Eds.). (2019). The New Arab Urban: Gulf Cities of Wealth, Ambition, and Distress. NYU Press.
Moser, S. (2018) Forest city, Malaysia, and Chinese expansionism. Urban Geography, 39(6), 935-943
Müller, M. (2017). How mega-events capture their hosts: event seizure and the World Cup 2018 in Russia. Urban Geography, 38(8), 1113-1132.
Müller, M., & Gaffney, C. (2018). Comparing the Urban Impacts of the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games from 2010 to 2016. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 42(4), 247-269.
Shin, H. B., & Kim, S. H. (2016). The developmental state, speculative urbanisation and the politics of displacement in gentrifying Seoul. Urban Studies, 53(3), 540-559.
Viehoff, V., & Poynter, G. (Eds.). (2016). Mega-Event Cities: Urban Legacies of Global Sports Events. Routledge.
Wachsmuth, D. (2017). Infrastructure alliances: Supply-chain expansion and multi-city growth coalitions. Economic Geography, 93(1), 44-65.
Wiig, A., & Silver, J. (2019). Turbulent presents, precarious futures: urbanization and the deployment of global infrastructure. Regional Studies, 53(6), 912-923.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Astrid Wood*, Newcastle University, Rethinking infrastructural development in the global south: mega-transport projects in Africa 15 5:35 PM
Presenter Yunpeng Zhang*, Division of Geography and Tourism, Temporal Domination and Injustice of Mega Urbanisation Project: Case Study of Guangling New Town in Yangzhou, China 15 5:50 PM
Presenter Brian Scanlon*, National Taiwan University, The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge: The Geopolitical Economy of Infrastructure and Mega-City Regionalism in the Pearl River Delta, China 15 6:05 PM
Presenter JUNSOO KIM*, Seoul National University, Conceptualizing Underneath Developmental Urbanization in East Asia 15 6:20 PM
Discussant Ayona Datta University College London 15 6:35 PM

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