January 19: Governing the City Without: The Challenge of Global Suburbanism

Governing the City Without: The Challenge of Global Suburbanism

Roger Keil 
Professor and Director, The City Institute at York University


As Bob Beauregard has observed, the rise of the suburb has historically been the reason for the emergence of metropolitan governance regimes. At the beginning, what was regulated through metropolitan governance was the growth of the urban region and the balance of wealth and taxation that came with it. Socially, the metropolitan form of governance allowed for — at least theoretically — a modest politics of redistribution across regional space. Three things changed in recent years in Canada: 1. Suburbanization has become more diverse. No longer do the outskirts become more homogeneous and wealthier, they are more diverse in all respects; 2. The neoliberalization and "splintering" (Graham and Marvin) of suburban development has led to a reorientation of metropolitan politics; and 3. The political equation of regionalization and redistribution has been severed as aggressive suburban regimes have come to power regionally or even federally in Canada to use their political base to fundamentally shift the meaning of metropolitan politics. This paper will examine the latest push for suburban politics to be recognized as central in metropolitan politics. It will demonstrate that the diversification of suburban identities has dramatically expanded the range of politics in the suburbs themselves and in the metropolitan region.

Roger Keil researches global suburbanism, urban political ecology, cities and infectious disease, and regional governance. Among his recent publications are the forthcoming Suburban Governance: A Global View (ed. with Pierre Hamel; UTP 2015), Suburban Constellations (Jovis, 2013) The Global Cities Reader (ed. with Neil Brenner; Routledge, 2006); Networked Disease: Emerging Infections and the Global City (ed. with S.Harris Ali; Wiley-Blackwell, 2008); Changing Toronto: Governing the Neoliberal City (with Julie-Anne Boudreau and Douglas Young; UTP 2009); Leviathan Undone? The Political Economy of Scale (ed. with Rianne Mahon, UBC Press 2009), and In-Between Infrastructure (ed. with Patricia Burke Wood and Douglas Young; Praxis(e)Press 2011). Keil is a co-founder of the International Network for Urban Research and Action (INURA) and previous director of the CITY Institute. He is the Principal Investigator of the MCRI project on Global Suburbanisms at CITY (2010-17).