Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Untamed Urbanisms

Adriana Allen, Andrea Lampis, Mark Swilling (editors)




The intention of this book is to explore “untamed” urban forms that are rarely acknowledged or recognized as productive, to rethink what makes cities conduits of social and environmental justice. The book focuses on diverse urban practices, experiences and imaginaries that either thrive within the interstices of domesticated and controlled urban development processes or are difficult to manage and assimilate.

The chapters are linked by a shared concern with repoliticizing the relationship among urban development, sustainability and justice, and exploring the tensions emerging under real circumstances, as well as their potential for transformative change. The chapters discover, explain and critically evaluate the potential of taming and untaming accounts of contemporary urbanisms, what and who drives them, and why and with what consequences.

The book is organized in four parts. The first part, “Trajectories of change in the Urban Anthropocene”, explores the wider socio-environmental transitions within which taming and untaming urbanisms operate. The authors examine how such transitions are either neglected or used to legitimize different courses of action and inaction.

The second part, “The untamed everyday”, digs critically into the plurality of experiences and everyday urbanism that are often misrecognized forms of production. The chapters in this part provide a set of case studies that engage with three major debates in urban studies:

·         the polarization between agency and structure, and how living beings possess active agency within wide socio-ecological dynamics of change;

·         the problematic implications of importing evolutionist assumptions about “adaptation” into the social sciences from the ecosystem sciences; and

·         the simplifications of state-versus-market dualism in relation to informalized cities of the global South.

The third part, “Disrupting hegemonic planning”, examines the capture of planning by mainstream narratives. It explores planning as a possible act of untaming, in an attempt to reframe practices in a time of disciplinary crisis. This part brings together a set of chapters that discuss from various perspectives the problematic and often contradictory role of urban planning processes and mechanisms within rapidly changing cities around the world.

The last part, “Liberating alternatives”, contains chapters that explore the narratives developed by people living in cities beyond the limits of the contemporary practices that produce and shape urban development processes.

In general, the book explores how ordinary citizens and planners make sense of the city, by either confronting or engaging critically with hegemonic narratives of what a city should be.


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Book note prepared by Lina María Rosales

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