Virtual Special issues

Urban Studies Virtual Collections

Urban Studies is pleased to announce that the Virtual Special Issue entitled Urban Studies in India across the Millennial Turn: Histories and Futures edited by Karen Coelho and Ashima Sood is now available online.  

The millennial turn saw a distinct efflorescence in scholarship on urban India. This essay introduces a Virtual Special Issue on urban studies in India that showcases a selection of articles from the journal’s archives. It traces the disciplinary, thematic and methodological shifts that have marked this millennial turn. On the one hand, the social science of the urban has had a statist bent, reacting to the policy focus on cities as growth engines in the post-liberalisation era. On the other hand, critical urban studies has brought attention to the unregulated, deregulated, unplanned and unintended city produced by dynamic processes of informality acting overtly or covertly against the state’s neoliberal agendas. This introductory essay aims to examine the ways this interplay has unfolded both in the pages of this journal and elsewhere. It locates the Virtual Special Issue selection within a broader review of the state of scholarship in Indian urban studies and marks out areas for productive interventions in the future study of Indian cities.

Other recent VSIs include:

"Urban debates for climate change after the Kyoto Protocol" edited by Yong Tu

From the catalogue of environment-related publications in Urban Studies, this paper identifies and reviews 12 thought-provoking articles that have addressed the issue of climate changes and cities from complementary perspectives. It argues that to advance a holistic understanding of urban environmental issues it is necessary to embrace a broad multi-disciplinary approach, particularly as moving towards low carbon urban living will require integrated social, political and technical adaptation processes. Ultimately, the paper advances a forward-looking research agenda that extends beyond consideration of how to improve urban environmental performance to include evaluation of how urban consumers, firms and local government endeavour to achieve sustainable urban development.


Reclaiming Public Space: Virtual Special Issue edited by Judit Bodnar

By the 1990s the mood of critical urban analysts once again became pessimistic and the end of public space was announced authoritatively. Mike Davis warned that Los Angeles was “inexorably […] mov[ing] to extinguish its last real public spaces, with all of their democratic intoxications, risks, and undeodorized odors” (Davis, 1992: 180). In a similar vein, writing from New York, Michael Sorkin (1992) concluded that the city was becoming a theme park. In the unambiguously entitled edited volume Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space Sorkin described how, along with non-place urban sprawls, the new urbanity was consciously and programmatically preserving and recreating the bare minimum of urban form devoid of the formal and social mix that had once made cities lively and political; “there are no demonstrations in Disneyland” (xv) he famously remarked. Traditional public space was being co-opted in the process of ageographical generalized urbanization.


Urban Studies at 50: A Virtual Special Issue with a Difference

It has become common for academic journals to mark significant anniversaries by putting together virtual special issues. The usual procedure is to collect the most cited articles published in the journal over the years. The Editors of Urban Studies have decided to mark the journal’s 50th birthday by putting together a virtual special issue with a difference. Although citation rates are a significant marker of the importance of an article, they are not the only measure, and not necessarily the best one either, particularly with regard to an interdisciplinary journal such as Urban Studies. Different disciplines have different citation practices, for example, and citing has moreover changed over time; certainly, a strong case can be made that contemporary academic writing has become plagued by what might be termed “citation inflation”… A high citation rate may furthermore be no guarantor of quality; some articles are frequently cited either because they are ‘wrong’ or because they offer an analysis that is considered contentious......


'The shitty rent business': What's the point of land rent theory edited by Callum Ward and Manuel B Aalbers

In this introduction to a virtual special issue on land rent, we sketch out the history of land rent theory, encompassing classical political economy, Marx’s political economy, the marginalist turn and subsequent foundations for urban economics, and the Marxist consensus around rent theory during geography’s spatial turn. We then overview some of the contemporary strands of literature that have developed since the break down of this consensus, namely political economy approaches centred on capital-switching, institutionalism of various stripes, and the rent gap theory. We offer a critical urban political economy perspective and a particular set of arguments run through the review: first, land is not the same as capital but has unique attributes as a factor of production which require a separate theorisation. Second, since the 1970s consensus around land rent and the city dissipated, the critical literature has tended to take the question of why/how the payment exists at all for granted and so has ignored the particular dynamics of rent arising from the idiosyncrasies of land. Amongst the talk of an ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘planetary urbanisation’ it is surprising that the economic fulcrum of the capitalist remaking of geography has fallen so completely off the agenda. It is time to bring rent back into the analysis of land, cities and capitalism.


For a full list of Virtual Special Issues published in Urban Studies, please see here




Urban Public Health Emergencies and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Guest Editors: Scott Orford, Phil Hubbard and Yingling Fan

Papers include:

Beyond growth and density: Recentring the demographic drivers of urban health and risk in the global south by James Duminy

Repopulating density: COVID-19 and the politics of urban value by Colin McFarlane

Urban rhythms in a small home: COVID-19 as a mechanism of exception by Jenny Preece, Kim McKee, David Robinson, John Flint

Spatial and social disparities in the decline of activities during the COVID-19 lockdown in Greater London by Terje Trasberg and James Cheshire

Cities and infectious diseases: Assessing the exposure of pedestrians to virus transmission along city streets by Achilleas Psyllidis, Fábio Duarte, Roos Teeuwen, Arianna Salazar Miranda, Tom Benson and Alessandro Bozzon

Locked down by inequality: Older people and the COVID-19 pandemic by Tine Buffel, Sophie Yarker, Chris Phillipson, Luciana Lang, Camilla Lewis, Patty Doran and Mhorag Goff

Spatialising urban health vulnerability: An analysisof NYC’s critical infrastructure during COVID-19 by Gayatri Kawlra and Kazuki Sakamoto

Informal settlements, Covid-19 and sex workers in Kenya by Rahma Hassan, Teela Sanders, Susan Gichuna, Rosie Campbell, Mercy Mutonyi and Peninah Mwangi

Governing public health emergencies during the coronavirus disease outbreak: Lessons from four Chinese cities in the first wave by Lingyue Li, Surong Zhang, Jinfeng Wang, Xiaoming Yang and Lan Wang

The impact of ethnic segregation on neighbourhood-level social distancing in the United States amid the early outbreak of COVID-19 by Wei Zhai, Xinyu Fu, Mengyang Liu and Zhong-Ren Peng

The city and the virus by Max Nathan

New urban habits in Stockholm following COVID-19 by Ann Legeby, Daniel Koch, Fábio Duarte, Cate Heine, Tom Benson, Umberto Fugiglando and Carlo Ratti

Urban epidemic governance: An event system analysis of the outbreak and control of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China by Jinliao He and Yuan Zhang

Towards a constructed order of co-governance: Understanding the state–society dynamics of neighbourhood collaborative responses to COVID-19 in urban China by Zhilin Liu, Sainan Lin, Tingting Lu, Yue Shen and Sisi Liang

Social pathologies and urban pathogenicity: Moving towards better pandemic futures by Tankut Atuk and Susan L Craddock

Population density and SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: Comparing the geography of different waves in the Netherland by Willem Boterman

Fickle spheres: The constant re/construction of the private and other new habits by Miko Hucko