Reading Development

Random readings on society, politics and change – Jorge Carrillo

Southern Theory without a North: City Conceptualization as the Theoretical Metropolis

There have been calls to broaden urban theory to incorporate learnings from the Southern or ordinary cities (periphery). These calls are often placed as a counter to the hegemony of the Northern cities (metropolis), which have long been the sites for producing theory. If the metropolis is a concept to describe clustering of power and knowledge, then geographical located-ness of this metropolis in the North is theoretically stifling. Therefore, we need to investigate the formation of metropolises within various cities, to study them in their own right, rather than merely pitching them against the northern cities or theory. Building on the qualitative study of street food sellers, users, and producers, I illustrate contrasting narratives from Colombo and Delhi. I take the lunch-packet sector in Colombo to develop narratives of the city and read it alongside those of the momos (dumpling) sector in Delhi. Through these everyday urban narratives, I build a set of urban imageries, distinct in both cities, and compare them with their planning histories via master plans. Using this juxtaposition, I argue that for the city to be rendered outside of the North’s knowledge hegemony (i.e., for Southern theory), we need to have an interiorized ontological probing.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, 24 February 2022 by in Urban issues and tagged , , , .
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