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Keywords:

  • comparative urbanism;
  • comparative methods;
  • postcolonial urban studies;
  • experimental comparisons;
  • variation-finding;
  • regional urban studies;
  • world cities;
  • IJURR editorial policy

Abstract

Comparative urbanism has been a core feature of IJURR's editorial agenda since its founding. This virtual issue comprises 30 articles reflecting IJURR's contribution to comparative urbanism, reinforced by the growing postcolonial insistence on a more global scope for urban studies widely aired in this journal. This introductory article discusses the contemporary potential of comparative urbanism to contribute to a more global urban studies and considers some of the key insights for this project which can be gleaned from early contributions to the journal, including comparing across cities jointly shaped by the uneven development of the world-economy, thinking across socialist and capitalist cities, and the important role of world cities approaches in shaping the scope of urban comparisons. The articles in the section on the ‘tactics and terms’ of comparison reflect on the methodological, analytical and political challenges involved in building a more global urban studies. In the ‘composing comparisons’ section there are examples of classic and more recent variation-finding comparisons, and innovative analyses which consider variations amongst cities within and across regions, including comparisons which challenge or bypass Northern or Western reference points. More experimental comparative methods associated with tracing connections across cities are reflected in the third section, beginning with the seminal world cities analyses and building on more recent interest in policy mobilities. The final section draws together a series of articles which demonstrate the scope for building analyses from specific contexts for wider theoretical interrogation: ‘launching and engaging concepts’. These articles reflect the best traditions of IJURR's editorial practices which have encouraged contributions from authors around the globe whose work disrupts and extends prominent analyses but who are also eager to initiate new theorizations through attending to the specificity of their case studies and situations. Here we see, for example, the concept of ‘informality’ emerging in studies of cities in Africa, to be put to work in the final contribution to the issue, in the USA.