Open Archive: Urban Research and Covid-19
Urban studies, urban planning and urban design have historically played a pivotal role in the combat against epidemics. Friedrich Engels’ 1846 classic work ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’ that illustrated the miserable 19th century living conditions in England, relied significantly on epidemiological evidence from large industrial cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, where mortality from epidemics was four times that in the surrounding countryside and significantly higher than the national average.
A year earlier, the medical doctor John Snow had mapped a cholera outbreak in the centre of London and was able to trace the outbreak back to a water pump on Broad Street. It formed the basis for the formulation of a waterborne germ theory of cholera, replacing the then prevailing miasma or foul air theory explaining epidemics.
Both Friedrich Engels’ and John Snow’s insights, amongst numerous other contributions, would fundamentally alter the nature and focus of urban planning. Sanitation and public health became a crucial concern amongst urban planners and led amongst other things to the construction of sewage systems in large cities. The despondent housing conditions in industrial cities formed the basis for the formulation of modern utopias that would bring back light, air, greenery and public space to the city. The design principles behind Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse and Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City were fully inspired by public health concerns.
The attention paid to public health and disease prevention in the 19th and early 20th century would culminate in modernist architecture and urban design that would become the standard for post-war housing schemes across the globe. In Sweden, the newly founded National Tenants Union’s demand was “Healthy homes for all!” in 1923. Ludvig Nordström’s 1937 radio documentary series “Dirt-Sweden” lamented the rural housing condition with its lack of health and hygiene. For Nordström, it was “the peoples’ health, the whole nations’ power” that was at stake. The program would lead to the start of a national housing policy to provide the nation with affordable quality housing that had public health concerns at its very core.
Concerns about public health and disease have given birth to modern urban planning and design and have informed it for many decades since. The tight connections between medical concerns and urban planning and design, once so prominent, are now lost. In a time of frequent epidemics (SARS 2002, swine flu 2009, Ebola 2014, and now Covid-19) that can easily turn pandemic in our hyperconnected world, it is of the utmost importance that urban scholars, planners and designers reinstate the significance of public health concerns as a vital cornerstone for city building.
The “Urban Research and Covid-19” Open Archive
Books and chapters
- Ali SH and Keil R (2008) Networked Disease: Emerging Infections in the Global City. Chichester: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
- Ali SH and Keil R (2010) Securitizing Networked Flows: Infectious Diseases and Airports. In: Graham S (ed) Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructure Fails. New York and London: Routledge, p. 97-110.
- Ali SH and Keil R (2011) The Urban Political Pathology of Emerging Infectious Disease in the Age of the Global City. In: McCann E and Ward K (eds) Mobile Urbanism. Cities and Policymaking in the Global Age. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, p. 123-145.
- Ali H, Dumbuya H, Hynie M, Idahosa P, Keil R and Perkins P (2016) The Social and Political Dimensions of the Ebola Response: Global Inequality, Climate Change and Infectious Disease. In: Filho WL, Azeiteiro UM and Alves F (eds) Climate Change and Health: Improving Resilience and Reducing Risks. London: Springer, p. 1151-169.
- Engelmann L, Henderson J and Lynteris C (2018) Plague and the City. London and New York: Routledge.
- Major C and Keil R (2011) SARS and Service Work. Infectious Disease and Racialization in Toronto. In: Baldwin A, Cameron L and Kobayashi A (eds) Rethinking the Great White North. Race, Nature, and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada. Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, p. 107.
- Ali SH and Keil R (2006) Global Cities and the Spread of Infectious Disease: The Case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Toronto, Canada. Urban Studies 43(3): 491-509.
- Ali SH and Keil R (2006) The Avian Flu: Some Lessons Learned from the 2003 SARS Outbreak in Toronto. Area 38(1): 107-109.
- Ali SH and Keil R (2007) Governing the Sick City: Urban Governance in the age of Emerging Infectious Disease. Antipode 39(5): 846-873.
- Connolly C, Keil R and Ali SH (2020) Extended urbanisation and the spatialities of infectious disease: Demographic change, infrastructure and governance. Urban Studies OnlineFirst.
- Donaldson A and Murakami Wood D (2008) Avian Influenza and Events in Political Biogeography. Area 40(1): 128-130.
- Füller H (2016) Pandemic cities: biopolitical effects of changing infection control in post-SARS Hong Kong. The Geographical Journal 182(4): 342-352.
- Keil R (2009) Urban Politics and Public Health: What’s Urban, What’s Politics? Urban Geography 1: 36-39.
- Vilenica A, McElroy E, Ferreri M, et al. (n.d.) Covid-19 and housing struggles: The (re)makings of austerity, disaster capitalism, and the no return to normal. Radical Housing Journal 2(1): 09–28.
Newspaper and magazine articles
- Baker PC (2020) ‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world? The Guardian.
- Clapp J (2020) Covid-19 is a wake-up call for Toronto to act on housing and homelessness. Spacing Toronto.
- Evelyn K (2020) ‘It’s a racial justice issue’: Black Americans are dying in greater numbers from Covid-19. The Guardian.
- Jabali M (2020) Coronavirus policing leads to harsher repercussions for black Americans. The Guardian.
- Levitz E (2020) Why Humanity Will Probably Botch the Next Pandemic, Too. New York Magazine.
- Lorek N (2020) Sweden still hasn’t locked down. But normal life is a luxury for only a few. National Geographic.
- McGreal C (2020) The inequality virus: how the pandemic hit America’s poorest. The Guardian.
- Morozov E (2020) The tech ‘solutions’ for coronavirus take the surveillance state to the next level. The Guardian.
- Palma RAL (2020) The COVID-19 pandemic is also an urban planning issue — especially in Manila. CNN Philippines.
- Safi M (2020) Coronavirus will reshape our cities – we just don’t know how yet. The Guardian.
- Shenker J (2020) Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban life. The Guardian.
- Visontay E (2020) Sensor taps and no door handles: Covid-19 shows it’s time to rethink public toilets. The Guardian.
- Wainwright O (2020) Smart lifts, lonely workers, no towers or tourists: architecture after coronavirus. The Guardian.
- Ware JP, Lobos J, Carrano E (2020) Una proposta per ripensare le nostre città. Internazionale.
In Portuguese (em português):
- Monplaisir S (2020) Pandemia de Coronavírus Expõe Problemas de Água e Saneamento do Rio. RioOnWatch.
- Muniz B, Fonseca B and Pina R (2020) Número de negros mortos por coronavírus é cinco vezes maior no Brasil. Agência Pública.
- Berry C, Macfarlane L, Nanda S (2020) Who wins and who pays? Rentier power and the Covid crisis. The IPPR Centre for Economic Justice.
- Brink E (2020) Reflections on what the coronavirus pandemic could mean for the favelas in Brazil. Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS)
- Fèvre E and Tacoli C (2020) Coronavirus threat looms large for low-income cities. International Institute for Environment and Development.
- Forsyth A (2020) What role do planning and design play in a pandemic? Ann Forsyth reflects on COVID-19’s impact on the future of urban life. Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
- Freshour C and Williams B (2020) Abolition in the Time of Covid-19. Antipode Online.
- Garcia E (2020) How to mitigate the impact of an epidemic and prevent the spread of the next viral disease: A guide for designers. Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
- Keil R, Connolly C and Ali SH (2020) Outbreaks like coronavirus start in and spread from the edges of cities. The Conversation.
- Klaus I (2020) Pandemics Are Also An Urban Planning Problem. Citylab.
- Krinsky J and Caldwell H (2020) New York City’s Movement Networks: Resilience, Reworking, and Resistance in a Time of Distancing and Brutality. Open Democracy.
- Lawanson T (2020) Lagos’ size and slums will make stopping the spread of COVID-19 a tough task. The Conversation.
- Marr S and Mususa P (2020) Can marginalised urban communities face Covid-19 without state support? Corona Times.
- Nieuwenhuijsen MJ (2020) COVID-19 and the City: How is the Pandemic Affecting Urban Health? IS Global. Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
- Novakovic S (2020). Will COVID-19 Spell the End of Urban Density? Don’t Bet On It. Azure.
- Wallace R, Liebman A, Chaves LF and Wallace R (2020) COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital. Monthly Review
- Wilkinson A (2020). The impact of COVID-19 in informal settlements. Are we paying enough attention? Cities Alliance.
In Portuguese (em português):
- Castro A (2020) 3 Mapas sobre a Mortalidade do Covid-19 no Brasil. Rede Urbana.
- Tulumello S (2020). Nem todos os bairros são iguais face à pandemia. Associação para o direito à moradia e à cidade.
In Swedish (på svenska):
- Jakobsson K, Hansson E, Albin M, Al Nahar L, Hogstedt C. (2020). Erbjud hotell till personer i riskgrupper som bor trångt. Göteborgs Post
Other archives or blogs
- Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. Postcolonial and Decolonial Perspectives on the Covid-19 Pandemic
- Progressive Geographies. Geographers, sociologists, philosophers etc. on covid-19.
- UCL. The Bartlett Development Planning Unit. Post COVID-19 Urban Futures
- Ali SH and Keil R (2004) SARS and the Global City: Connectivity and Vulnerability in the “New Normal”. Working Paper, York University.
- Hannah M, Hutta JS and Schemann C (2020) Thinking Corona measures with Foucault. Working Paper, University of Bayreuth.
- Akallah J and Huchzermeyer M (2020) Dark Clouds over Informal Settlements II: Responses to the Pandemic (AfterCorona #6). Urban Political Podcast
- Rogers D (2020) Listening to the city in a global pandemic. City Road Podcast