This afterword closes the Massive Urbanisation forum, collectively written by a collective of Southern urban scholars. Click on the following for: the introduction, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


n the clamor of countervailing projects and logics at work in generating contemporary urban inhabitation and operation, what constitutes viable modes of political practice able to navigate the intricate physical and social landscapes of discrepant times and strange spatial juxtapositions? Instead of envisioning processes of urbanisation as the unfolding of definitive forces of value capture, asset creation and resource extraction, how are these albeit salient categorizations of spatial production accompanied by a growing multiplicity of entities and their exertions? Particularly at the extensions, just beyond what has customarily been purported to be “the real city” it is increasingly evident that a continuous recalibration of “projects”, material inputs and residues, and altered ecologies of reciprocal causation are generating landscapes that exceed the salience of available vernaculars of analysis and intervention. Here, intricate landscapes of provisional sutures, half-lives, diffractions, disjuncture, compensation, and transience create unsettled urbanities and populations. 

While dedicated genealogies may be capable of grasping how particular built environments, spatial dispositions and fabric got to be the way they manifest themselves, there is something that eludes coherent narratives of development and prospective futures. These are spaces of intensive contiguity of the disparate — disparate forms, functions, and ways of doing things. They are replete with gaps, interstices, breakdowns, contested territories, and sediments of dissonant tenure regimes, financing, legalities, and use. Instead of being able to discern legible articulations among the details of composition, the proliferation of housing, commercial, industrial, logistical, recreational, entrepreneurial, and governmental projects are less subsumed into overarching logics of capital accumulation or neoliberal rationalities as they are “strange accompaniments” to each other, where nothing quite fits according to design, where things dissipate or endure without obvious reason, and where improvised alliances of use and rule continuously reshape what it is possible for any particular individual or institutional actor to do.