Policy mobility and Postcolonialism: the geographical production of urban policy territories in Lusaka and Sacramento

Matt Lane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The geographical literature on urban policymaking has made a considerable contribution to enabling understandings of the relational processes involved in assembling local policies. Reviewing this literature’s journey from its origins in political science to its recent embrace of poststructuralism, this article argues that the debates and discussions involved have arrived at a point of core epistemological tension. Taking its own conceptual inspiration from thinking interurban space topologically, the article thus raises a number of questions regarding the assumptions associated with terms such as mobility and circulation, persistent in the languages of policy research and practice. Exploring these questions through a post-colonial ethnography of sustainable city visions in Lusaka, Zambia, and Sacramento, California, the article subsequently makes a series of contributions regarding the way policymaking regimes remain powerfully situated in space and time. To properly account for the workings of power and its ability to colonize policy practices, the article challenges us to therefore reflect on the value of transitioning away from thinking about policy ideas as capable of being mobile, circulated from place to place, and to instead unpack how particular territorial representations of place are (re)produced (including by geographers) within the confines of hegemonic ideas about city futures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Early online date21 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2021

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