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Edited by Pierre Hamel and Roger Keil

HAMELKEIL book coverIn Suburban Governance: A Global View, editors Pierre Hamel and Roger Keil have assembled a groundbreaking set of essays by leading urban scholars that assess how governance regulates the creation of the world’s suburban spaces and everyday life within them. With contributors from ten countries on five continents, this collection covers the full breadth of contemporary developments in suburban governance. Examining the classic North American model of suburbia, contemporary alternatives in Europe and Latin America, and the emerging suburbanisms of Africa and Asia, Suburban Governance offers a strong analytical introduction to a vital topic in contemporary urban studies. Get your copy now from the University of Toronto Press.


“Suburban Governance is a landmark volume for the consolidation of global urban studies, making an important contribution to a new generation of scholarship marking out the opportunities for inventive theorization and the renewal of the conceptual landscape of the field. It sets a new standard for the growing commitment to post-colonialize urban studies.” Jennifer Robinson, Department of Geography, University College London

“Suburban Governance is an important contribution to intellectual discussions about suburbanization. This collection is very much up there with the best work on critical urban theory.” Andrew E.G. Jonas, Department of Geography, Environment, and Earth Sciences, University of Hull

“This collection provides compelling insight into the global nature of suburban development and the various ways in which the dynamics of (sub)urban development play out in different political and economic contexts.” Andrew Wood, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky


The Flexible City Symposium 24/25 October 2013

“Cities over the world face complex and rapidly evolving challenges. Ranging from climate, to poverty, economic downturns and demographic shifts, cities now need to confront an unprecedented array of issues. Addressing them requires ingenuity and versatility, whether in policymaking, investment decisions or everyday livelihoods. At the Flexible City Symposium of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, we seek to re-think the city, in theory and practice to confront these challenges” (



Global Suburbanisms




About the Series:                   

Urbanization is at the core of the global economy today. Yet, crucially, suburbanization now dominates 21st century urban development. Suburbanization is defined as an increase in non-central city population and economic activity, as well as urban spatial expansion. It includes all manner of peripheral growth: from the wealthy gated communities of Southern California, to the high rise-dominated suburbs of Europe and Canada, the exploding outskirts of Indian and Chinese cities, and the slums and squatter settlements in Africa and Latin America. In the current period, environmental issues are occurring more and more in cities where economic and urban development is taking place in connection with suburbanization processes. The related term Suburbanisms refers to the growing prevalence of qualitatively distinct ‘suburban ways of life’.


Global Suburbanisms is the first major scholarly series to systematically take stock of worldwide developments in suburbanization and suburbanisms today.

The series’ objectives are threefold:

(1) To document and evaluate the diversity of global suburbanisms in their various contexts;

(2) To participate in an ongoing effort by researchers around the world to encourage a truly global sub/urban studies devoid of traditional dichotomies such as world city/ordinary city, North/South or developed/developing;

(3) To use our wide-ranging empirical data and analysis on suburbanization and suburbanisms to intervene in urban theory.

Drawing on methodological and analytical approaches from political economy, urban political ecology, and social and cultural geography, the series seeks to contribute to better grasping the complex processes of suburbanization as they pose challenges to policymakers, planners, and academics alike. The series will be an outlet for research in foundational, thematic and geographical projects and case studies.

The series is linked to a Major Collaborative Research Initiative by the same name ( The MCRI is centred at the City Institute at York University but has 50 co-investigators around the globe. Researchers in the MCRI analyze recent forms of urbanization and emerging forms of (sub)urbanism as well as the dilemmas of aging suburbanity. The initiative broadly focuses on the governance of suburbanization, that is, efforts to guide and regulate its development. It involves state, market and civil society actors and implies democratic deliberation and social conflict. In addition, the categories land, which includes housing, shelter systems, real estate, greenbelts, megaprojects, and infrastructure, including transportation, water and social services, function as the two prime anchors upon which specific empirical research projects are hinged. Examination of Canadian suburbanization and suburbanism serves as the starting point of wide ranging comparative studies of suburbanization in the Americas, Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Brief Description:

This will be the first series of its kind. While there are many series in critical urban studies, none are specifically designed to be a home for suburban research. This series will be of great interest to suburban researchers around the world, an explosively growing field of research.

(1) The series seeks manuscripts and proposals from all manner of scholarship on suburbanization. These could be innovative critical PhD theses but also independent work by more senior scholars.

(2) The series seeks HAMELKEIL rough2monographs on particular case studies as long as they have a comparative aspect to them.

(3) While this is an English language series, the editors are keenly interested in work from other cultural and linguistic backgrounds in order to broaden the intellectual and empirical base of global suburban research.

The series will be interested to attracting monographs as well as edited collections. While we are seeking a common and branded format for the series, we will allow for special format requirements if there is a good reason for it. General format requirements for manuscripts can be viewed here:

We are looking for manuscripts in the 60,000-80,000 word range, resulting in a published book of 150 -250 pages. Proposals should include the following elements: Working title, project description, research context and origin of work, table of contents (annotated), relation to existing literature, audience, length, illustrations, audience, competition, schedule.

Review Process and Editorial Board:

Each proposal and manuscript will be subject to a rigorous review facilitated by the editorial board of the series. The editorial board is made up of a representative group of senior scholars of suburban studies from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and geographic provenance. The board will seek outside referees for each review. The final decision on publication lies with UTP.

 Series Editor:

Roger Keil, York University (Political Science/Environmental Studies)

Editorial Board Members:

Eric Charmes, Lyon University, France (Planning)

Shubhra Gururani, York University (Anthropology)

Pierre Hamel, Université de Montreal (Sociology)

Richard Harris, McMaster University (Geography)

Louise Johnson, Deakin University, Australia (Social Sciences)

Alan Mabin, University of Pretoria, South Africa (Urbanism)

Nicholas A. Phelps, University College London, UK (Geography and Planning)

Fulong Wu, University College London, UK (Geography & Planning)

 Click here for a pdf copy

Using Toronto to explore three suburban stereotypes, and vice versa

Is Toronto a suburban metropolis? Does Toronto redefine the suburban nation? Richard Harris asks the difficult questions in this new paper and provides wide reaching and important answers. Click here to read his paper.

“Urbanists share and reprrichard_harris_subdivisionoduce three stereotypes about North American suburbs. First, many invoke a clichéd ideal: the desire to enjoy quiet privacy in a low-density residential environment near the urban fringe. Second, they assume that most suburbs have actually conformed to this ideal. Third, academics and planners alike agree on a stereotypical judgment: suburbs are to be deplored. This synthetic essay argues that residential patterns in postwar Toronto never conformed to these stereotypes: especially since the 1970s it has harboured a competing, more urbane popular ideal; its suburbs have been socially and physically diverse; and, recognizing diversity, local urbanists have made varied judgments. Suburban diversity has become systematized since the 1970s, so that a new local stereotype has emerged: that of the declining inner suburb. Toronto’s experience exemplifies that of one of the two main types of North American metro. It challenges stereotypes, while those stereotypes illuminate its particular character. Most generally, while polycentricity and dispersion have shaped its economic geography, the language of zones is still meaningful in interpreting its residential patterns. There may be a larger lesson there.”


International Perspectives on Suburbanization: A Post-Suburban World edited by Nicholas A. Phelps and Fulong Wu

Suburban Constellations edited by Roger Keil

Alex Schafran reviews two books edited by MCRI researchers in the International Journal for Urban and Regional Research. Read the review here.


 “One way of thinking about the contemporary moment is that the goal is not to define or redefine suburbia, but instead to grapple with the ‘post-suburban’ moment, to understand how this place called suburbia has changed and what it has evolved into, even if we now acknowledge it was never quite what we thought it was. The idea of ‘post-suburbia’ is at the heart of Nick Phelps and Fulong Wu’s edited volume International Perspectives on Suburbanization: A Post-Suburban World?, and to their credit they grapple with historical, spatial and political-economic definitions of the term. Is the post-suburban about a new age of suburbanism, a new physical/economic space or a new set of networked actors and institutions?”


Roger Keil’s Suburban Constellations sees Simone embracing Matthew Gandy over halal Chinese in a strip mall in Markham. It is a fabulously bold explosion of color from Keil who, along with Ute Lehrer and co-conspirators like Alan Mabin, has dutifully been attempting to provided structure, support and inspiration to global suburbanists the world over (in the interests of full disclosure, I too have benefited from their efforts, and will be part of one of the forthcoming collections). One of the first of many forthcoming products from the Global Suburbanisms project hosted at York (in post-suburban Toronto, naturally), Constellations is a structured bricolage of short essays, photos, brief snippets of larger empirical projects, suburban wanders and one very interesting report on a novel university–community ‘working group’ on suburban planning and community development.”




Tridel, Hullmark and Kirkor Architects/ Wikimedia Commons

Are the suburbs becoming more like cities? Are the cities being suburbanized? Research by MCRI co-investigator Professor Markus Moos has recently been cited by Richard Florida in a widely noted article called, “The Fading Distinction Between City and Suburb” in The Atlantic CityLab online magazine.

“Most of us who are sometimes labeled “urbanists” believe the new age of the city is squarely upon us. Cities and urban neighborhoods once counted for dead are adding people, in some cases faster than the suburbs; at the same time, we’re seeing shortages of affordable housing in some of America’s largest and most vibrant cities. This is what Alan Eherenhalt dubs “the Great Inversion” a reversal of fortunes in which cities grow as suburbs decline.

But a recent study indicates that the traditional suburban lifestyle continues to be widespread. The study, by Markus Moos of the University of Waterloo and Pablo Mendez of Carleton University, found that key features of suburban life not only remain commonplace in the suburbs but are often continued by high-income people even after they move to cities.” Keep Reading.


Roger Keil Awarded Tier 1 York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies

January 16, 2015
Congratulations to MCRI Principal Investigator Roger Keil for being awarded a Tier 1 York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies. The award recognizes his research contributions to the field of urban and environmental research. The York Research Chairs program is envisioned as an internal twin for the national Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program.


Upcoming panel- Housing the Future: Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Next Generation

January 16, 2015
MCRI researcher Markus Moos launches his new project, “Generationed City” with a panel discussion Housing the Future: Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Next Generation. Fellow MCRI researchers Pierre Filion, Roger Keil, and Alan Walks will weigh in on the issue. January 29, 2015 at the University of Waterloo School of Planning. 1pm-2:30pm.


City and suburbs: six decades of unity and division (Toronto Star)

January 5, 2015
“Many people who live in under-serviced communities feel trapped — by poor transit, and a lack of social mobility — the latter a relatively new phenomenon for Canada, where past generations of newcomers were able to “move up,” along with their children, says Roger Keil, a York University professor who studies global suburbanism. He cautions more »


Star series looks at Toronto: The Divided City

December 1, 2014
“Roger Keil, a York University expert on suburbs, says those 905-belt communities are becoming “glamour zones,” with culture and opportunities akin to those in downtown Toronto. “So you’re going to make connections between one glamour zone of the city and another glamour zone, and we don’t have any municipal instruments to make life any better more »


Italian Interview: Roger Keil on Global Suburbanisms

October 27, 2014
Click here for Roger Keil’s Italian interview about Global Suburbanisms on Forum PA.


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This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through funding from the Major Collaborative Research Initiative “Global suburbansims: governance, land, and infrastructure in the 21st century (2010-2017).