In the seminar series “Overlooked Cities: Thinking and doing global urban studies differently”, made possible by the Urban Studies Foundation Seminar Series Award, we expand on the term “overlooked cities” to mark our collective critique of the indifferent views on cities, city-lives and city-ness that are marginalised, off-the-map and under-theorised (Ruszczyk et al., 2021; Nugraha et al., 2022).
Whereas the first seminar in the series focused on Asia, with great inputs especially from early career researchers, the second seminar shifts the focus to Africa to make theoretical dialogues between overlookedness and other related concepts and discourses. In particular, we want to foreground the relationship between “overlooked cities” and “ordinary cities”. Jennifer Robinson (2006) has long been inviting us to attend more to the differences and diversities among a world of cities. Calling for alternative takes on Western modernity and development, and their association with urbanisation, she insists that all cities should be seen as ordinary.
What’s next, we may wonder, to further interrogate global and uneven urban conditions where, it seems, many cities are rendered more “ordinary” (read: invisible) than others?
How and how far can we make overlookedness a critical lens?
What does it mean for a politics of counter- overlooking in envisioning alternative urban futures for the urban majority?
To answer these questions, we invited scholars from diverse disciplines: law, urban studies, geography, theology, and history, to engage on how their work corresponds to the conversation between overlooked and ordinary cities.