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Title: Mega-urban politics: Analyzing the infrastructure turn through the national state lens
Recent studies have focused attention on the proliferation of plans in the Global South for massive infrastructure investment to accelerate peri-urbanization and link together networks of proximate cities. This paper proposes that a focus on the national politics of the infrastructure push is an essential starting point to understand this trend, both because the national state plays a constitutive role in the processes that are shaping emerging urbanity, and because national states are themselves being transformed by this moment. In pursuing infrastructure-driven extended urbanization, national state actors seek to capitalize on moments of opportunity presented by shifts in the investment priorities of transnational financial actors, and by advances in infrastructure and logistics technologies, to gain power through the formation of political regimes based on economic growth and the distribution of rents from land development. Hence extended urbanization proceeds not as a gradual and linear process, but is instead marked by waves of disruptive and politically contentious reforms and plans intended to enable real estate, infrastructure, and logistics megaprojects. The current wave of political projects around extended urbanization is marked by distinct features, including the increasingly fragmented and decentered nature of transnational finance, and geopolitical dynamics associated with the emergence of an increasingly polycentric global order. It is consequently marked by geopolitical competition to shape emergent state agendas of extended urbanization, and by increasing variegation in the models of infrastructure-driven extended urbanization that state actors adopt. The paper illustrates these arguments with examples from Southeast Asia's mega-urban regions.  more » « less
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Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Page Range / eLocation ID:
845 to 866
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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