Well-attended Metropolisation sessions at AAG Boston

Rodrigo Cardoso and I organised four sessions at the AAG (Association of American Geographers) conference in Boston, MA last week (5-9 April) – a kind of ‘conference within a conference’-format. The theme was: ‘The process of Metropolisation: Reconfiguring the city at the regional scale’. Over 50 different conference participants visited the sessions.

20 papers were submitted, looking at metropolisation from different angles and with different methods, and they were presented by scholars from a wide variety of countries. We are currently exploring opportunities for a follow-up. Below is the call for contributions that was circulated – it gives a good insight in what the session was about.

Rodrigo Cardoso speaking at the AAG

Topic of the sessions:

“A reconfiguration of cities at larger territorial scales is underway. Formerly separate urban centres expand or coalesce into vast and interconnected urban regions, in a process of restructuring of economic activity, spatial forms and flows that some researchers have tried to capture under the concept of ‘metropolisation’. The processes underlying this transformation are tripartite: spatial processes of coalescence, expansion and connection contribute to gradually integrate (functionally, institutionally and culturally) cities into larger entities; the socio-spatial qualities and features once attributed to the ‘city’ are reconstructed by citizens, firms and institutions at the scale of that urban region; and policymakers and planners develop strategies towards that goal. Such processes of urban region formation have become important for policy, not only to respond to the spatial transformations of the territory, but also because the alleged benefits of size and agglomeration can arguably be achieved through integration with larger territorial scales. Deeply integrated and networked urban regions can try to organise agglomeration economies comparable to single, large conurbations of comparable size. Therefore, we can understand metropolisation not so much as cities dissolving into loose urban regions, but rather urban regions consolidating as extensive cities.

But urban regions are not just constructed by functional or economic processes. They involve long-term historical processes of spatial and social change, which leave behind territorial and socioeconomic fault-lines. The complexity of urban regions and their integration processes demand a re-examination of issues of governance, metropolitan identity-building, inter-city cooperation, shapes and actors of formal and informal networks, inequality and segregation, infrastructural and functional configurations, among many others.

As we acknowledge new dimensions of metropolitan integration, more unanswered questions emerge. The purpose of this session is to start sketching answers to some of them.”