Comparative Urbanism: Global Perspective Conference

March 7-8, 2019

Welcome from Director

The world has entered an unprecedented urban age and universities around the globe, along with governments, think tanks, and private corporations, are making major efforts to understand and direct the forces of urbanization. The ramifications of ‘planetary urbanization’ are profound and they entwine with major social transformations that provide opportunities and pose challenges.

If in the first half of the 20th century the ‘Chicago school’ ruled urban studies, such singular domination of the field, from the United States or anywhere else, is now inconceivable. A hundred years ago, urbanization redefined the societies of the ‘North’, especially in Europe and North America; in the past few decades, the same happened in East Asia and, more recently, in the Global South. How does this affect our understanding of cities and urbanization in general? Can we uphold a singular definition of the city? Is urban theory ‘portable’, i.e., does it truly apply across urban contexts around the world? Are urban policies ‘mobile’, to what extent can cities learn from each other?

The Urban Studies Institute, founded in September of 2017, is organizing this 2-day conference to address these questions about comparative urbanism in global perspective. The conference builds on existing research in the field and is framed around a trialogue of perspectives from the North, South, and East. Keynote speakers and participants hail from different parts of the world but all share a passion for urban research and policy –with an eye to questions of the comparative understanding of cities.

This conference promises to be a path-breaking event and one that will build long-lasting global scholarly networks. If you are participating in the conference, we thank you in advance for your important contribution. If you wish to attend the conference as part of the audience, you are most welcome.

We look forward to hosting you all in Atlanta

Jan Nijman



Organizing Committee

Jean-Paul Addie
Fei Li
John Travis Marshall
Deirdre Oakley

Keynote Speakers

George Lin – Chair of Geography, University of Hong Kong

Dr. Lin’s research interests include China’s urban development and urbanization, land use and land management, the growth of urbanism, rural industrialization and regional development in the Pearl River Delta. He is the author of Red Capitalism in South China: Growth and Development of the Pearl River Delta, Developing China: Land, Politics, and Social Conditions, and co-author of China’s Urban Space: Development under Market Socialism.



Kevin Ward – Professor of Human Geography and Director, Manchester Urban Institute

Dr. Ward’s research interest include urban policy and politics, neoliberal urbanism, policy mobilities and mutations, and geographies of work and employment. He is currently exploring the constitution of financial ‘models’ that have emerged in different areas of the world and that have been circulating as a means of funding infrastructure in the current economic condition.



Ananya Roy – Professor and Director of The Institute on Inequality and Democracy, UCLA Luskin

Dr. Roy’s scholarship has focused on urban transformations in the global South, with particular attention to the making of “world-class” cities and the dispossessions and displacements that are thus wrought. Her ongoing research examines what she calls the “urban land question”, in India, as well as in globally interconnected nodes across North and South. Her books include: City Requiem, Calcutta: Gender and the Politics of Poverty, Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, Territories of Poverty: Rethinking North and South.