(Apologies for cross-posting)
Call for Papers AAG 2020: Beyond Comparison: Revisiting Comparative
Urbanism for Innovative Research Methodology and New Theoretical Framework
AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, April 6-10, 2020
Session Organizers: Hyejin Yoon (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Jane
Zheng (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Kris Olds (University of
Deadline: October 30, 2019

Comparative urbanism serves as a key tactic in urban studies research for
knowledge generalization and theory building. Despite its contributions,
there is increasing demand for methodological experimentation, viz., better
design of research methods to explore and critique some issues, such as
elitist global city perspective (Nijman, 2015) and the western-oriented
models in comparative urbanism research (Robinson, 2014; Kantor and
Savitch, 2005). Influenced by post-industrial, postmodern and postcolonial
discourses, scholars often adopt a category-based selection method, under
which cities are grouped by certain variables towards comparison, leading
to a select of model cities for study (Beaverstock et al., 1999; 2000; Roy
and Ong, 2011). This method, however, is critiqued for oversight of the
complexities of cities. Cities selected in the economic category, for
instance, are largely based on their economic performance; the underlying
logic of linear path of growth has been neglected. For methodological
improvement, a joint study of multiple locations for comparison generates
insights. Asian cities for instance, are sampled as sites of "relational
interface" and interactions, which can be researched through the lens named
"multi-city comparison" and "multi-sites within a single city" (Massey et
al., 1999; Massey, 2005; Morange, et al., 2012). Olds (2001) discusses the
overlapping part of Vancouver and Shanghai and treats the two cities on
equal footing, which avoids direct comparison on the territorial outcomes.
These methods aim to eliminate a hegemonical bias towards Euro-American
centered lens (Robinson, 2004).

More recent literature discusses how to avoid overstating the geographical
disparity by treating these cities as the "others" and not neglecting their
"cosmopolitan vernacular" when handling the differences embodied by cities
within one continent. Robinson (2011a) suggests that case studies can be
conducted based on an "individualizing" approach with multiple
possibilities of case selection. Alternatively, an "encompassing" approach
can be adopted that selects all the cases within the same network of
capitalism or globalization. The latter approach selects the cities and
countries of a high degree of similarity for comparison, where economic and
social activities are connected through global networks (Robinson, 2011b).
A broader and more cosmopolitan conceptualization of cities in one region
and diversified possibilities in case selection are advocated. Cities are
perceived to be local sites with rich inter-connections (with territorial
assemblances such as policies, people and capital) that are shaped by
global forces, e.g., capitalism and post-colonialism.

This session aims to engage scholars to discuss methodological innovations
and build new theoretical framework in the study of comparative urbanism.
Presentations may focus on one or more of the following issues:
1. Theoretical developments for the interpretation of contextual meanings
and understanding of variations in scales and scopes in comparative
urbanism in various regions in the world, either across the Global North
and South or within the Asia-Pacific region
2. Introducing new innovative research method and designs for understanding
different contexts and territorial outcomes in research on comparative
3. Empirical work that follows specific research methods in the literature,
and the implications to researchers.
Interested colleagues may send abstracts (up to 250 words) to the session
organizers (jzhen...@wisc.edu; yo...@uwm.edu) together with the information
of your names, institutional affiliation by October 30, 2019.

Beaverstock, J.V., R.G. Smith and P.J. Taylor (1999). A roster of world
cities. Cities, 16(6): 445–58.
-----------., D.R.F Walker and H. Lorimer (2000). Relational studies of
world cities: some measurement methodologies. Applied Geography, 20(1):
Kantor, P. and Savitch, H. V. (2005). How to study comparative urban
development politics: A research note. International Journal of Urban and
Regional Research, 29(1): 135–151.
Massey, D., J. Allen and S. Pile (2005). For space. Sage: London.
-----------. (1999) City Worlds. London: Routledge.
Morange, M., F. Folio, E. Peyroux and J. Vivet (2012). The spread of a
transnational model: "gated communities" in three Southern African cities
(Cape Town, Maputo and Windhoek). International Journal of Urban and
Regional Research, 36(5): 890–914.
Nijman, R. (2015). The Theoretical imperative of comparative urbanism: A
commentary on "Cities beyond Compare?" by Jamie Peck. Regional Studies
49(1): 183–186.
Olds, K. (2001). Globalization and urban change: Capital, culture, and
Pacific Rim mega-projects. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Robinson, J. (2004). In the tracks of comparative urbanism: difference,
urban modernity and the primitive. Urban Geography 25(8): 709–23.
-----------. (2011a). Cities in a world of cities: the comparative gesture,
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35(1): 1–23.
-----------. (2011b). 2010 Urban geography plenary lecture–The travels of
urban neoliberalism: taking stock of the internationalization of urban
theory, Urban Geography 32(8): 1087–1109.
-----------. (2014). Introduction to a virtual issue on comparative
urbanism. International Journal
of Urban and Regional Research 1–12. doi:/10.1111/1468-2427.12171
Roy, A. and A. Ong (eds.) (2011) Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the
art of being global. Blackwell, London.

Hyejin Yoon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Geography
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

Reply via email to