Urban and Urbanization

The urban under erasure: Towards a postcolonial critique of planetary urbanization

In my engagement with the planetary urbanization thesis, I make three main interventions: (1) I emphasize the pioneering contributions that postcolonial and relational geographical approaches have made to planetary thought long before the recent planetary turn in urban studies; (2) I underscore the disconcerting ethico-political implications of planetary urbanization's will to map the “extended landscapes” of urbanization and its reduction of contemporary planetary condition to the imperatives of capitalist urbanization; and (3) I offer the deconstructive strategy of writing “under erasure” that puts both the city and urbanization under erasure to highlight the blind spots of planetary urbanization. Then to demonstrate the value of writing under erasure, I focus upon waste – as both material and semiotic artifact of capitalist urbanization – and offer a “supplementary reading” of Bangalore that sketches the multiple constitutive outsides of the city, which in turn make empirically evident the stakes of planetary urbanization's occlusions. I conclude by suggesting that proponents of planetary urbanization and urban studies more broadly embrace writing under erasure as a useful epistemological orientation to build better theories of the urban.

more articles from

Volume 36 Issue 3

Explore our Topics

Though not an exhaustive list, these are many of the main areas we cover.