Terra Urbis: Composite geo-taxonomies for an urbanization without an outside

Nikos Katsikis, presentation at the conference, "What Is the Urban? Registers of a World Interior," Iowa State University (organized by Ross Exo Adams)

If urbanization is a ubiquitous condition that renders inherited spatial taxonomies (like the town, the city, the suburb), or dichotomies (like the town – country, or the urban – rural) obsolete, what are the new spatial categories that can be utilized in order to investigate this condition? Although it is argued that urbanization is a universal condition, this does not imply the existence of a homogeneous, symmetrical landscape. It rather incorporates very different and very asymmetrical geographies and patterns of, both socially, and ecologically uneven development. In order to start grasping these complex configurations, this presentation introduces a series of composite geo-spatial taxonomies, which aim to offer a matrix for classifying the terrain of ‘Planetary Urbanization’: On the one hand ‘agglomeration landscapes’ are the geographies where agglomeration economies, and in general agglomeration externalities and dynamics can unfold. On the other hand, ‘operational landscapes’ are the geographies that are connected to land extensive and, or, geographically bound operations that are impossible to cluster. A series of hybrid landscapes emerge as these two ‘extreme’ categories blend together in different ways around different areas of the world.