1st Edition

Mega-Urbanization in the Global South Fast cities and new urban utopias of the postcolonial state

Edited By Ayona Datta, Abdul Shaban Copyright 2017
    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    236 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The global south is entering an ‘Urban Age’ where, for the first time in history, more people will be living in cities than in the countryside. The logics of this prediction have a dominant framing - rapid urbanization, uncontrolled migration, resource depletion, severe fuel shortages and the breakdown of law and order. We are told that we must be prepared. The solution is simple, they say. Mega-urbanization is an opportunity for economic growth and prosperity. Therefore we must build big, build new and build fast.

    With contributions from an international range of established and emerging scholars drawing upon real-world examples, Mega-Urbanization in the Global South is the first to use the lens of speed to examine the postcolonial ‘urban revolution’. From the mega-urbanization of Lusaka, to the production of satellite cities in Jakarta, to new cities built from scratch in Masdar, Songdo and Rajarhat, this book argues that speed is now the persistent feature of a range of utopian visions that seek to expedite the production of new cities. These ‘fast cities’ are the enduring images of postcolonial urbanism, which bypass actually existing urbanisms through new power-knowledge coalitions of producing, knowing and governing the city.

    The book explores three main themes. Part I examines fast cities as new urban utopias which propagate the illusion that they are ‘quick fix’ sustainable solutions to insulate us from future crises. Part II discusses the role of the entrepreneurial state that despite its neoliberalisation is playing a key role in shaping mega-urbanization through laws, policies and brute force. Part III finally delves into how fast cities built by entrepreneurial states actually materialise at the scale of regional urbanization rather than as metropolitan growth. This book explores the contradictions between intended and unintended outcomes of fast cities and points to their fault lines between state sovereignty, capital accumulation and citizenship. It concludes with a vision and manifesto for ‘slow’ and decelerated urbanism.

    This timely and original book presents urban scholars with the theoretical, empirical and methodological challenges of mega-urbanization in the global south, as well as highlighting new theoretical agendas and empirical analyses that these new forms of city-making bring to the fore.



    1. Fast cities in the Urban Age

    Ayona Datta

    Fast cities and ‘new’ urban utopias

    2. Frictionless Utopias for the Contemporary Urban Age: Large-scale, Master-planned Redevelopment Projects in Urbanizing Africa

    Martin Murray

    3. New African city plans: local urban form and the acceleration of urban inequalities.

    Vanessa Watson

    4. Speed kills: Fast urbanism and endangered sustainability in the Masdar City project

    Federico Cugurullo

    Entrepreneurial states

    5. Envisioned by the State: Entrepreneurial Urbanism and the Making of Songdo City, South Korea

    Hyun Shin

    6. From petro-urbanism to knowledge megaprojects in the Persian Gulf: Qatar Foundation’s Education City

    Agatino Rizzo

    7. ‘Their houses on our land’: Perforations and blockades in the Planning of New Town Rajarhat, India

    Ratoola Kundu

    Mega-urbanization and Masterplanning

    8. Mega-suburbanization in Jakarta Mega-urban Region

    Delik Hudalah and Tommy Firman

    9. Mega- Scale Sustainability: The relational production of a new Lusaka

    Mathew Lane

    10. Planning new towns in the People’s Republic: Political dimensions of eco-city images in China.

    Braulio Morera

    Slow: Towards a decelerated urbanism

    Abdul Shaban and Ayona Datta


    Ayona Datta is Reader in Human Geography at Kings College London, UK.

    Abdul Shaban is Professor at the School of Development Studies and Deputy Director (Tuljapur campus), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.

    "Unpacking the cultural, economic and historical determinants of speed as a central feature of contemporary city-making in the global south, this carefully edited volume brings together fresh and innovative analyses of urban change across a wide variety of contexts. It also lucidly identifies the deleterious consequences of fast or 'instant' cities. One of those rare books which truly renews our understanding of urban dynamics."

    Professor Ola Söderström, Department of Geography, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland


    "The fast and intoxicating logic of building smart/green/new cities as a panacea to the world’s problems is this outstanding book’s object of inquiry. With laser-sharp precision, these scholars demonstrate that from Johannesburg to Lusaka, Jakarta to Songdo City, ‘speed kills’. Pulsating throughout this terrific collection is the call to ‘decelerate or else’, making it the perfect new primer on questions of urban justice in the global South."

    Professor Michael Goldman, Sociology and Global Studies, University of Minnesota, USA