International Development Planning Review

Beyond a standardised urban lexicon: which vocabulary matters?

International Development Planning Review (2021), 43, (4), 419–434.


Urban vocabulary has been influenced by global patterns of modernity, capitalism and anglophone academia. These lexicons are increasingly standardised and shape dominant conceptual approaches in city debates. However, contemporary urban theories indicate a shift toward understanding the ‘urban’ and ‘cities’ from multiple perspectives. An emerging urban vocabulary is being built to capture the significance of place, complex power dynamics and changing geographical landscapes. This special issue presents diverse perspectives on how urban lexicons can be decentred from anglophone thought, operate as organising urban logics, serve larger political projects, and shape and are reshaped by grounded urban practice. Articles from the Middle East and South Asia discuss the margins of vocabulary and how vocabularies located in the global South enable us to think through dilemmas of knowledge production. We contribute to debates on decolonising power and authority in urban thought by expanding on how to theorise from the South.

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Author details

Dasgupta, Shreyashi

Wahby, Noura