Megaregions reconsidered: urban futures and the future of the urban

2015-01-09T10:18:46Z (GMT) by John Harrison Michael Hoyler
We live in a world of competing urban, regional and other spatial imaginaries. This book’s chief concern has been with one such spatial imaginary – the megaregion. More particularly, its theme has been the assertion that the megaregion constitutes globalization’s new urban form. Yet, what is clear is that the intellectual and practical literatures underpinning the megaregion thesis are not internally coherent and this is the cause of considerable confusion over the precise role of megaregions in globalization. This book has offered one solution through its focus on the who, how and why of megaregions much more than the what and where of megaregions. In short, moving the debate forward from questions of definition, identification and delimitation to questions of agency (who or what is constructing megaregions), process (how are megaregions being constructed), and specific interests (why are megaregions being constructed) is the contribution of this book. The individual chapters have interrogated many of the claims and counter-claims made about megaregions through examples as diverse as California, the US Great Lakes, Texas and the Gulf Coast, Greater Paris, Northern England, Northern Europe, and China’s Pearl River Delta. But, as with any such volume, our approach has offered up as many new questions as it has provided answers. In this concluding chapter, we identify some of these questions as part of an ongoing reconsideration of megaregions and reformulation of a programme of research for those of us interested in megaregions and global urban studies more broadly. One of the main unresolved questions to arise out of this book is the status and position of the ‘megaregion’ within global urban studies. This extends much further than the immediate focus of this book, so one of our aims in this final chapter is to connect the contribution(s) of this collection to contemporary debates centred on urban futures and the future of the urban. The book has presented multiple pathways into the megaregion debate and we have identified four to develop further in this chapter, which are: (1) competing or complementary spatial imaginaries; (2) megaregional glocalization; (3) utopian/dystopian urban dreams; and (4) urban history, periodization and temporality. To foreground this, we begin with three examples which caught our eye in the short period we were writing this chapter. They serve as an important reminder both of the continuing influence of megaregions within popular public discourses and the need for the type of more critical analysis that this book promotes.

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