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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

McFarlane, C., Silver, J. & Truelove, Y. Cities within Cities: Intra-Urban Comparison of Infrastructure in Mumbai, Delhi and Cape Town. Urban Geography. 2017;38:1393-1417.

Author(s) from Durham


Comparison is now taken as vital to the constitution of knowledge about cities and urbanism. However, debate on comparative urbanism has been far more attentive to the merits of comparisons between cities than it has been to the potential and challenges of comparisons within cities—to what we call “Intra-Urban Comparison” (IUC). We argue that a focus on the diverse forms of urbanism located within cities may generate critical knowledge for both intra- and inter-urban comparative projects. IUCs highlight the diversity inherent in the category “city,” revealing dimensions of the urban that are central to how cities work and are experienced. We mobilise fieldwork within three cities: Mumbai, Delhi and Cape Town, and consider both how these cities have been historically understood as different urban worlds within a city, and discuss key findings from IUCs we have conducted on infrastructures. We find that IUCs can enhance comparative work both within and between cities: reconceptualising urban politics; attending to the varied and contradictory trajectories of urban life; and bringing visibility to the diverse routes through which progressive change can occur.

Department of Geography