Plenary Lectures

Organized in partnership with the Urban Geography Speciality Group of the AAG, since 2006 there has been an annual Urban Geography plenary at which a renowned urbanist has been invited to speak, followed by responses from two discussants. This is an opportunity for a group of urbanists to take stock and offer their reflections on a debate in contemporary urban geography, and is normally followed by a stimulating question and answer session. The plenaries and responses are then published in the journal after undergoing review.


2019, Wahsington DC: Deborah Cowen (University of Toronto), with discussants Malini Ranganathan (American University) and Kate Derickson (University of Minnesota).

Version 2

“Following the Infrastructures of Empire: Notes on Cities, Settler Colonialism, and Method”

This talk investigates urban life through the contested formation of settler colonial infrastructure. Transecting nationalist narratives, it ‘follows the infrastructure’ across imperial space, time and struggle, illuminating the extraordinary power of cities both in and as infrastructural systems. It tracks a set of circulations through cities across Canada and well beyond, to explore how the making of ‘national infrastructure’ holds together seemingly disparate archives of Indigenous dispossession and genocide, of transatlantic slavery, and of unfree migrant racial labour regimes. Infrastructure, almost by definition, reproduces material relations, although at times in very queer ways. With an eye towards a future for urban infrastructure otherwise, I ask: what does a map of infrastructure’s afterlives look like, and what is at stake in its refusal and in claims to repair?

Day: 05/04/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level




2018, New Orleans: Roger Keil (York University, Toronto), with discussants Lynnell Thomas (University of Massachusetts Boston) and Elvin Wyly (University of British Columbia)                                                                                                       

2017, Boston: Susan Fainstein (Harvard University) “Resilience and the just city

2016, San Francisco: Robert Lake (Rutgers University) “On poetry, pragmatism and the urban possibility of creative democracy”, with discussants Katharine Hankins (Georgia State University) and Mark Purcell (University of Washington-Seattle)

2015, Chicago: Ananya Roy (University of California-Berkeley) “What is urban about critical urban theory?”, with discussants Kate Derickson (University of Minnesota) and Linda Peake (York University)

2014, Tampa: Ayona Datta (University of Leeds) “The intimate city: violence, gender, and ordinary life in Delhi slums”, with discussants Asher Ghertner (Rutgers University) and Rupal Oza (Hunter College)

2013, Los Angeles: Susan Ruddick (University of Toronto) “Situating the Anthropocene: planetary urbanization and the anthropological machine”, with discussants John Paul Jones (University of Arizona) and Jamie Lorimer (University of Oxford)

2012, New York: Anna Secor (University of Kentucky) “Topological city”, with discussants Jennifer Fluri (University of Colorado-Boulder) and Lynn Staeheli (Durham University)

2011, Seattle: Nicholas Blomley (Simon Fraser University) “Colored rabbits, dangerous trees and public sitting: sidewalks, police and the city”, with discussants Nicholas Dahmann (University of Southern California) and Deborah Martin (Clark University)

2010, Washington: Jennifer Robinson (University College London) “The travels of neoliberalism: taking stock of the internationalization of urban theory”, with discussants Carolyn Cartier (University of Technology Sydney) and Patricia Ehrkamp (University of Kentucky)

2009, Las Vegas: AbdouMaliq Simone (Goldsmiths) “On intersections, anticipations, and provisional publics: remaking district life in Jakarta”, with discussants Pablo Bose (University of Vermont) and Cindi Katz (City University New York)

2008, Boston: Michael Brown (University of Washington-Seattle) “Public health as urban politics, urban geography: Venereal biopower in Seattle, 1943-1983”, with discussants Rachel Slocum (St Cloud State University) and Roger Keil (York University, Toronto)

2007, San Francisco: Melissa Wright (Penn State University) “Femicide, mother-activism, and the geography of protest in northern Mexico”, with discussants Fernando Bosco (San Diego State University) and Geraldine Pratt (University of British Columbia)

2006, Chicago: Jamie Peck (University of Wisconsin-Madison) “Liberating the city: Between New York and New Orleans”, with discussants Laura Liu (New School) and Katharyne Mitchell (University of Washington-Seattle)