Subaltern Urbanisation in India: An Introduction
to the Dynamics of Ordinary Town reviewed by Gregory F Randolph (University of Southern California) and Mukta Naik (IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam) in Urban Studies 1–3 – 2018.
While half the world’s city dwellers reside in small and medium-sized towns (United Nations, 2018), the urban social sciences remain stubbornly focused on the planet’s largest metropolitan areas. Among those studying the North, the global cities literature (Sassen, 2005, 2013) has re-energised the long-standing focus on cities such as London, New York and Paris. Neither has scholarship on the urban South, despite its critiques of urban theories emanating from Northern cities, turned its imagination much
beyond major metropolitan areas. The implicit assumption seems to be that megacities are representative samples of the massive
urban transformation underway across much of the world. The neglect of cities at the other end of the settlement size spectrum is not simply a failure of the academy to study the full universe of urban phenomena. As the evidence in this volume begins to demonstrate, it is actually a failure to grapple with one of the central forces underlying the rapid urbanisation unfolding in the
Global South: widespread rural-to-urban in situ transformations are resulting in the proliferation of small urban settlements.