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Pandemic Urbanism: Infectious Disease on a Planet of Cities, with Harris Ali and Roger Keil

Book Launch and Discussion

Emerging infectious disease outbreaks in recent decades have transformed the very nature of urban life worldwide, even as the extent and experience of pandemics are shaped by the planetary urban condition. Pandemic Urbanism, the new book by Dahdaleh York University faculty fellows S. Harris Ali and Roger Keil, co-authored with their University of Hong Kong colleague Creighton Connolly, critically investigates these relationships in the world faced with an unprecedented pandemic, the first on a majority urban planet.

blue book cover

The authors reveal the historical context of recent infectious disease events and how they have variously transformed the urban social fabric. They highlight the important role played by socio-ecological processes associated with the global urban periphery – suburban or post-suburban zones and hinterland areas of "extended" urbanization –bringing to light the increased significance of social media, changing mobility patterns, and new forms of urban governance and pandemic response. The book takes forward theoretical approaches to understanding pandemics grounded in urban political ecologies of disease and landscape political ecology, developing novel insights for post-pandemic urban governance and planning. In doing so, it reveals a paradox at the heart of pandemic urbanism: we are so closely connected so as to enable contagions to spread easily, yet our urban way of life also makes it easier to contain and respond to disease outbreaks.

Multidisciplinary in its approach, written by three proven experts in the field, this book is an invaluable, accessible primer on the origins, pathways and management of infectious disease.

In this one-hour seminar, Professors Ali and Keil will present the book to the Dahdaleh community and invite participants to join them in a conversation about the pathways for action for global public health governance and pandemic preparedness that they advocate in the book.

seminar series event poster

Speaker Profiles

Harris Ali is a sociologist at York University who teaches in the areas of environmental sociology, disaster and emergency management, social theory, and environmental health. His research focuses on how the interplay of social, political and environmental factors promote the emergence of disease outbreaks and environmental disasters, as well as how this interplay influences the response to such phenomena. He has conducted various studies based on extensive fieldwork on different types of infectious disease outbreaks in various parts of the world, including E. Coli in Walkerton, Ontario, Tuberculosis amongst the homeless in Toronto, community-based responses to Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (with Dr. Mosoka Fallah and Dr. Joseph Macarthy), and with his long-time research colleague - Roger Keil - a comprehensive study of the 2003 outbreak of SARS in global cities – Singapore, Toronto, Hong Kong - which culminated in an edited volume on SARS (Networked Disease: Emerging Infections in the Global City, Wiley-Blackwell, 2008) that has recently been recognized by the Canadian newspaper of record, The Globe and Mail, as one of the "top ten books that offer lessons from past pandemics." His most recent book coauthored with Roger Keil and Creighton Connolly is entitled Pandemic Urbanism (Polity Press) and focuses on the disease ecology and socio-political dimensions of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases under the conditions of contemporary globalization and heightened urban inequality.

Roger Keil is Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University. He researches global suburbanization, urban political ecology, cities and infectious disease, infrastructure, and regional governance. Among his publications are Suburban Planet (Polity, 2018) and After Suburbia (with Fulong Wu, UTP: 2022) as well as Pandemic Urbanism (Polity, with S. Harris Ali and Creighton Connolly, Polity: 2022) and Turning Up the Heat: Urban political ecology for a climate emergency (with Maria Kaika, Tait Mandler and Yannis Tzaninis, Manchester: 2023).

Register below and join us on Wednesday, March 8, at 1 p.m.


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Please find the recap and recording here.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2023


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2023
  • Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


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