The urban domination of the planet: A Rancièrian critique
Journal article, 2019

A competitive urbanisation discourse is dominating the world. So much so that, following Lefevbre’s later work, Brenner and Schmid, among others, have recently re-invigorated the term ‘planetary urbanisation’ to promote a new epistemology of the urban. This is an epistemology which re-conceptualises the world as constituted by an extended urban fabric that lacks global exteriority – all the world is now to be perceived as a part of a global condensed, extended or differential urbanisation. But this also begs the question: what of the other non-urban-dwelling population who inhabit the 97% of the landmass that currently is not developed as urban land? The article begins by considering contemporary debates about planetary urbanisation. Having introduced arguments of equality developed by the philosophy of Rancière, it then considers planetary urbanisation from the perspective of equity. The article argues that we currently are witnessing an urban domination of the planet that not only fails in recognising the non-urban outside, but perhaps more importantly, increasingly is creating ‘geographies of despair’. It concludes by arguing for planning theories that take rubrics other than just that of the urban as their starting point, in order to contribute to opening up both urban and non-urban places as potential stages where disruptive politics, including those pertinent to planning, may be both played out and appropriately understood.



distribution of the sensible

planetary urbanisation

policing order






Kristina Grange

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

Michael Gunder

University of Auckland

Planning Theory

1473-0952 (ISSN)

Vol. 18 4 389-409

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Human Geography



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