chapter  4
31 Pages

Imperial, colonial and postcolonial cities

WithTariq Jazeel

This chapter tackles postcolonial geographical engagements with cities and urbanism. It proceeds in four sections, the first two of which discuss the ‘imperial city’ and ‘colonial city’ respectively – formulations that illuminate the routed influence of imperial and colonial spatialities in the production of urban space and urban imaginations. The chapter then discusses the notion of the ‘postcolonial city’. It argues that the ‘postcolonial city’ is most useful as a methodological imperative enabling a shifting set of perspectives on, first, the historical logic that inheres in cities that were once under colonial rule, second, post-independent and anticolonial national spatial politics enacted through the city, and third, the pernicious persistence of colonial power relations in contemporary urban realities and lives. In the final section, the chapter puts postcolonialism’s historical and deconstructive impulse in dialogue with urban geography’s primary knowledge object, ‘the city’. The chapter suggests how a postcolonial approach to urban geography can usefully prompt us to think critically about ‘the city’s’ existence as an intuitive textual referent, a spatial category that homogenizes a rich tapestry of spatial variation and historical difference extant in the world.