Demarcating the Granular Frontier: planetary urbanization without an inside

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In its age of global crisis, sand has acquired a conspicuous profile as an urban resource and undercover vector of statecraft. Amidst mounting reports of the disastrous effects of sand mining stoked by intense cycles of urbanization and territorial expansion across the world, it is critical to understand the formation of sand’s granular frontiers, and how their differentiated expression through the global sand crisis demands a reconsideration of the theoretical frontiers of urbanization, territory, and global trade. Building on conceptualisations of sand’s granular geographies and its “geologising” of urban political ecology, this paper seeks to demarcate the theoretical and empirical terrain of sand’s granular frontiers, and how they problematize contemporary debates around urbanization’s “planetary” scope and its extractive underbelly. By reconnecting the frontiers of sand extraction and urbanization, this article theorizes the enclosure of geomorphology and where sand’s satiation of urban and state development is leading. In examining how sand’s simultaneous exclusion from formal processes of valuation and regulation structures urbanization in unpredictable ways, it seeks to provide an account of planetary urbanization without an inside.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalUrban Geography
Early online date26 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2024

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