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Canadian cities on the edge: Reassessing the Canadian suburb

Fiedler, RS; Addie, JD; (2008) Canadian cities on the edge: Reassessing the Canadian suburb. (City Institute Occasional Paper Series 1:1 , pp. pp. 1-32 ). York University: Toronto, Canada.

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Half a century of explosive suburban expansion has fundamentally changed the metropolitan dynamic in North American city-regions. In many cities the imagined suburban “bourgeois utopias” that evolved during the 19th Century, in material and discursive opposition to the maladies of the city, have given way to diverse forms of suburban and exurban development. New, complex and contradictory landscapes with diverse social, infrastructural and political-economic characteristics have appeared within pre-existing urbanisms and urban forms. This maelstrom of growth, with its associated fluid geographical restructuring, is being reflected in qualitatively different rhythms of everyday suburban life and has engendered stresses in the institutional and infrastructural cohesion of the metropolis – problematizing scalar governmental relations between city and suburbs, the theoretical and applied use of “urban” solutions to address “suburban” problems, and what constitutes “urbanity” itself. Focusing on the Canadian context from a broad (yet by no means exclusive range of methodological and theoretical perspectives, it can be argued that, despite their ubiquitous presence, suburban society, space and politics have been unduly sidelined in various bodies of geographic literature. In response to this deficit, we think it is time to develop a research agenda for critically unpacking the complex social, institutional and infrastructural realities of contemporary suburban landscapes. In particular, we suggest future studies of “the suburbs” may benefit by engaging with the following: (1) the continuing predominance of an uncritical city-suburb dichotomy; (2) the presence of “inbetween landscapes”, poorly acknowledged in both urban and suburban imaginaries; (3) the theoretical de-valorization of “forgotten” suburban spaces and lives within the contemporary metropolis; and (4) the dialectical interplay between (sub)urban society, space and politics. A re-conceptualisation of “the suburbs” requires a holistic understanding of the city’s varied landscapes, everyday realities, and contemporary political infrastructures, allowing us to grasp the fluidity and dynamism (and emerging contradictions) shaping present-day urban experiences in Canadian city-regions.

Type: Report
Title: Canadian cities on the edge: Reassessing the Canadian suburb
Publisher version: https://www.yorku.ca/cityinstitute/projects/projec...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1463468
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