Atlas of Places
Infrastructure Patterns V
This situation of planetary urbanisation means, paradoxically, that even spaces that lie well beyond the traditional city cores and suburban peripheries—from transoceanic shipping lanes, transcontinental highway and railway networks, and worldwide communications infrastructures to alpine and coastal tourist enclaves, “nature” parks, offshore financial centres, agro-industrial catchment zones and erstwhile “natural” spaces such as the world’s oceans, deserts, jungles, mountain ranges, tundra, and atmosphere—have become integral parts of the worldwide urban fabric.
We need first of all new theoretical categories through which to investigate the relentless production and transformation of socio-spatial organisation across scales and territories. To this end, a new conceptual lexicon must be created for identifying the wide variety of urbanisation processes that are currently reshaping the urban world and, relatedly, for deciphering the new emergent landscapes of socio-spatial difference that have been crystallising in recent decades. Last but not least, we require adventurous, experimental, and boundary-exploding methodological strategies to facilitate the empirical investigation of these processes. Whether or not a distinct field of “urban” studies will persist amidst such theoretical, conceptual, and methodological innovations is a question that remains to be explored in the years and decades ahead.