The importance of theorizing from small or secondary cities

Motul, Yucatán. © Claudia Fonseca Alfaro 2015.

Early this year (January to be precise), I participated in a digital workshop on small and secondary cities organized by two talented postdocs: Susana Neves Alves and Hanna Ruszczyk. Over the course of one week, I learned about corners of the world I had never heard of as the group explored: What do we learn from theorizing from “overlooked cities”? What modes of urbanity are specific to these places? What are the conceptual and methodological challenges of doing research in “small” or “secondary” cities? What are the risks of homogenizing by using such terms?

The discussions were intellectually stimulating and connected to some of the big debates currently taking place within urban studies (e.g., the strengths and limitations of operationalizing the concept “planetary urbanization”). At the end, Susana and Hanna encouraged us to write a creative piece to reflect on our respective “small” locations of study thinking through the rich discussions that we had.

The final product is an eye-catching and thought-provoking digital magazine titled Theorising from the overlooked city: Generating a research agenda & research network on small/secondary cities.

Make sure to read my contribution, Finding the secondary or overlooked city? Some methodological reflections from a postcolonial urban scholar.