Repopulating density: Covid-19 and the politics of urban value

Authors: Colin Mcfarlane*, Durham University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: Density, Covid-19, cities, value.
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 44
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new public debate on urban density has emerged. While some voices have blamed density for the spread and impact of the virus, others have cautioned against those claims. As the pandemic progressed, an imaginary of density-as-pathology gave way to a nuanced geographical understanding of the urban dimensions of the crisis, focussed on connections, spatial conditions, and the links between domestic ‘crowding’ and poverty. A debate about the future of density in the city emerged, prompting a moment of interrogation and reflection on urban density. I argue for a new politics of value of density in the city rooted in a transformational agenda, based on shifts in three inter-connected domains: governance, form, and knowledge. I also identify implications for the future of research on the politics and geographies of density in urban studies.

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