Intersections on the periphery: the Good City in a Time of Crisis

Andrew Tucker, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town (South Africa), Shriya Anand, Indian Institute for Human Settlements (India), and Colin McFarlane, Durham University (United Kingdom), are curating a new seminar series entitled Intersections on the periphery: the Good City in a Time of Crisis, funded by the Urban Studies Foundation.


The intersection of rapid peripheral urbanisation, profound climate impacts, and sharply growing inequalities has placed our existing conceptual frameworks and approaches in disarray. While we have a rich body of research examining each of these domains independently, we lack two vital understandings. First, how do we make sense of the intersection between these processes, particularly at the rapidly growing urban periphery? Second, what does understanding this intersection mean for working towards ‘the good city’?

Peripheral expansion has emerged as a dominant mode of urbanisation today, reshaping urban lives, economies, socialities, and ecologies. Urbanisation, and the associated challenges of poverty, inequality and environmental transformation, have in recent decades taken place mainly through peripheral expansion. However, going beyond spatial peripheral expansion, we identify four key forms of peripheralisation for the purpose of this work: one, as a result of deliberate intervention by state or private actors including corridors, magnet cities, new towns, or programmes of massive suburbanisation; two, off-shoot growth from larger urban centres which might include expansionary real estate speculation on the urban edge; three, the formation of peripheries through often gradual settlement of and autoconstruction by new and typically lower-income migrants, and the diversity of activities that emerge in unplanned and underserved areas such as urban villages; four, the marginalisation and lack of research on certain types of urban residents who exist at physical urban peripheries and whose subjectivities have made them all but invisible to contemporary scholarship and/or policy support (Brenner and Schmid, 2011; Guney et al, 2019; Caldeira, 2017; Holston, 2009; Holston and Caldeira, 2008; Pati, 2022; Tucker and Hassan 2021; Tucker 2023).

Across much of the existing literature, there is a deepening sense that understanding the current urban moment demands interrogating the intersection between peripheralisation, climate change, and a plurality of growing inequalities. While we might understand elements of each of these processes well, it is the intersection which eludes clear comprehension. And yet this is the vital challenge of our time. This seminar series offers us a way to create a series of open-ended conversations that will enable participants to ‘step back’ and reflect, in an open-ended, dialogic way, to make sense of this intersection and what do about it.

We will hold 2 seminars of 15 participants each at the University of Cape Town and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore. The first workshop in Cape Town (27– 28 November 2023) will focus on different ways of knowing or understanding peripheral urbanisation. We invite a wide set of stakeholders and perspectives on the periphery, as well as scholars working with a variety of methodological approaches. In addition, we will start theorising the links between peripheral urbanisation, climate change and sharply growing inequalities in the first workshop.

In the second workshop in Bangalore, we will deepen the theoretical and conceptual work initiated in Cape Town, to think about ways of linking peripheral urbanisation, climate change, and inequalities, and what these mean for our ideas about the ‘good city’. For this workshop, we invite scholars whose work lies at the intersection of at least two of the above three trends.

Interested candidates can apply to only one workshop. Please indicate whether you wish to be considered for the first workshop (Cape Town), or the second workshop (Bangalore). The deadline to send in a 350 word paper proposal is 10 September 2023. Attendance will then be confirmed by 29 September 2023. Please send proposals and queries to

Meals during the workshop will be provided for all participants. Where possible, local accommodation will be provided. We have a small amount of funding to support the travel of some participants to Cape Town / Bangalore. This will be used to prioritise travel for early career scholars. The remaining participants will be required to fund their travel costs for attending the workshop. Online participation will be considered for a small set of participants that are unable to travel. Funding for the workshops is being provided by the Urban Studies Foundation.

Host institutions: African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town (South Africa), Indian Institute for Human Settlements (India), and Durham University (United Kingdom)
Dates: November 2023 (Cape Town), January 2024 (Bangalore), and June-July 2024 (Durham).
Lead organisers: Dr Andrew Tucker (African Centre for Cities), Shriya Anand (Indian Institute for Human Settlements), and Prof Colin McFarlane (Durham University)
Contact: Dr Andrew Tucker