Call for Papers: 'Megaregions: Globalization’s New Urban Form?'

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2013 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Los Angeles, USA
9-13 April 2013

Megaregions: Globalization's New Urban Form?

John Harrison and Michael Hoyler (GaWC/CRIGS, Loughborough University, UK)

Sponsored by Economic Geography Specialty Group and Urban Geography Specialty Group of the AAG

Accelerated processes of global economic integration alongside rapid urbanisation are producing a new metropolitan landscape. Synonymous with this is the rise of the ‘megaregion', a recognition that in certain spatial contexts the expansion of large cities into larger city-regions is being superseded by trans-metropolitan landscapes comprised of two or more city-regions. Indeed we are made increasingly aware of this new metropolitan landscape in a series of accounts positing the emergence of large networks of metropolitan areas as a new scale of geography. Part and parcel of this discourse is an empirical and conceptual gravitation toward an increasingly select number of urban-economic units, fuelled by a belief that bigger units are the real drivers of the global economy, and greater impetus to coordinate policy at this expanded scale. Bound up with this also is a broadening of the research horizon as this research agenda is shaped not only by developments in North America and Western Europe but developments in Pacific Asia and the unprecedented urban expansion currently underway in China. Indicative of the rise of the megaregion discourse is the gathering appeal among policy elites, with initiatives such as America 2050 and UN-HABITAT's State of the World's Cities report identifying megaregions as the pivotal political-economic and societal formations going forward. This is not to say, however, that the rise of the megaregion discourse has not gone unchecked. Some critics argue that many of these purported megaregions are in fact imagined geo-economic spaces, while others question the extent to which it is possible to coordinate policy at this scale. Certainly there are a series of open questions relating to how, by whom, and for whom these spaces are being constructed, alongside the utility of planning, governing, and managing activity at this expanded urban-regional scale which require critical scrutiny. It is the aim of these sessions then to open the megaregion concept up to this critical scrutiny and facilitate debate on the future of megaregions.

Papers are therefore welcomed that attempt to understand the geography of megaregions, as well as more provocative think-pieces that challenge or defend the foundations upon which the megaregion concept has been constructed.

Potential topics/themes of interest might include, but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical interventions and/or empirical studies which seek to advance new ways of conceptualising this new metropolitan landscape;
  • Papers which seek to connect the rise of megaregions to broader processes of political-economic and social change in globalization;
  • Empirical studies which seek to interrogate the coherence of megaregions as political-economic and societal formations;
  • Accounts which examine the rise of the megaregion discourse as a planning and development tool;
  • Global comparative perspectives on megaregions – their emergence, formation, morphology, construction, identity;
  • Perspectives on the urban-economic infrastructure challenges posed by planning at the megaregion scale;
  • The role of megaregions in international political-economy.

Expressions of interest from potential contributors should be sent to John Harrison ( and Michael Hoyler ( in the form of a 250 word abstract by Monday 15th October.