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Regional Studies, Regional Science

For a Special Issue on

The past, present and future of metropolitan regions

Manuscript deadline
30 June 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Chandrima Mukhopadhyay, Consultant to UN-Habitat India
[email protected]

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The past, present and future of metropolitan regions

The proposed special collection on 'The past, present and future of metropolitan regions' will examine the evolution of metropolitan regions’ through the classic texts on the evolution of certain metropolitan regions listed below, the existing opportunities and challenges they present, and offer insight into the future of the selected regions from certain strategic perspectives. Some of these classic texts were published in national-level journals and never reached the international audience. However, these regions are still of interest to researchers while they have grown in size (both in population and economy), and are still on the research agenda for predicting futures in multiple ways, such as, achieving net zero target, delivering sustainable development goals etc. Since cities can look forward by looking back, the special collection invites submissions using mixed methods that bring these three temporalities together.

Definitions of city- and metropolitan regions vary across context and time[1]. Dickinson (1947) uses the term ‘regionalism’ in his book on human ecology, which is the relation of society to the area in which it lives.  He defines the city as a regional centre of an area where its function is an important condition, rather than its size. In the 1960s, urban growth (in the United Kingdom) was focused on the regional scale, rather than local, and the ‘city-region’ was considered the most difficult challenge (Nature, 1965). Ash (1969) uses the term ‘open city’ to explore regions of tomorrow, while asking for a policy of city-region development. He pleas for the development of city-regions in metropolitan regions. In the Indian context, the term “regionalization” is used to explore varied regions and regional planning, including the relevance of the concept to space, but sometimes spacelessness, with an emphasis on homogeneity. The definition of the metropolitan region varies across the North and South, however, taking physical growth, economic growth, new forms of government and administration into account.

‘Regions’ offer conceptual and analytical focus for overlapping concerns with economic, social, political, cultural and ecological change. Hence, with an increased interest in inter- and multidisciplinary approaches, ‘regions’ remain an arena in which synthesis across disciplines including economics, geography, planning, politics and sociology can take place. Specific metropolitan regions are researched to address specific challenges: for instance, due to its enormous size, Delhi National Capital Region, India, is examined in terms of carrying capacity as a basis for sustainable development. Bengaluru Metropolitan Region, India, is investigated for its ecology and environment. Cape Town in South Africa is researched for its water crisis and resiliency. Metropolitan regions were investigated to understand the impact of Covid-19 and resilience.

Like Ash (1969) used the term “open city” to explore regions of tomorrow, there are a number of current studies that offer insights into regional futures. Harrison et al. (2021) argue for new approaches towards planning regional futures. From an Asian perspective, Shin et al. (2020) discusses ‘fast cities’ in Asia as the development was enabled in specific historical and geographical conjunctures, entailing the appropriation of individual and collective aspirations. Megaregions are large-scale regions defined by their population (10 million) and economic output (USD 100 billion). While there were very few numbers of global megaregions located in the South even a decade back, there are increasing numbers of megaregions due to the rapid urbanisation rate and corridor developments as strategic interventions.  There are other empirical studies that strategically forecast metropolitan region boundaries using scenario planning in order to achieve sustainable urban metabolism, to forecast suburbanisation with urban sprawl control, to make low carbon intervention and to make Sustainable Development Goals-enabled deep decarbonisation intervention.

We invite authors to submit manuscripts on the past, present and future of specific metropolitan regions, from both the Global North and South, drawing on a collection of classic papers discussing the historical evolution of specific metropolitan regions published during 1960-1985 listed below. In order to explain the current challenges faced by those regions, including what became evident during the Covid-19 pandemic, authors can use primary empirical data. The submitted manuscripts should project, anticipate, strategically forecast (using innovative methods), or provide expert insight into the future of those regions within a specified timeline based on certain strategic interventions. For instance, authors could project the regional future of Delhi NCR by 2070 as this is the year when the Indian national government aims to achieve net zero. In the spirit of regional science, the authors may draw upon inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches including economics, geography, planning, climate science, politics and sociology.

[1]Territory and Function: The Evolution of Regional Planning, by John Friedmann, Clyde Weaver.

  1. Delhi National Captial Region, India (e.g.:Nath, V. (1988). Regional planning for large metropolitan cities: a case study of the National Capital Region. Economic and Political Weekly, 201-214.)
  2. London Metropolitan Area, UK (e.g. Gordon, I., & Vickerman, R. (1982). Opportunity, preference and constraint: an approach to the analysis of metropolitan migration. Urban Studies, 19(3), 247-261.
  3. New York Metropolitan Area, US (e.g. Vernon, Raymond. Metropolis 1985: An Interpretation of the Findings of the New York Metropolitan Region Study, Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1960.)
  4. Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Area, Malaysia (e.g. Anthony, J. M. (1971). Urban politics in Malaysia: a study of Kuala Lumpur. The Australian National University (Australia).)
  5. Jakarta Metropolitan Area, Indonesia (e.g. Indonesia specific: Tinker, I., & Walker, M. (1973). Planning for regional development in Indonesia. Asian Survey, 13(12), 1102-1120. There are a few more published in 1970s.)
  6. Boston Metropolitan Area, US (e.g. Dorfman, N. S. (1983). Route 128: the development of a regional high technology economy. Research Policy, 12(6), 299-316.)
  7. Mumbai Metropolitan Area, India (e.g.: Visaria, P. (1969). Growth of Greater Bombay, 1951-1961. Economic and Political Weekly, 1185-1190.)
  8. Kolkata Metropolitan Area, India (e.g. Klove, R. C. (1968). Basic Development Plan for the Calcutta Metropolitan District, 1966–1986.)
  9. Mexico City Metropolitan Area, Mexico (e.g.: Boyer, R. (1977). Mexico in the seventeenth century: Transition of a colonial society. Hispanic American Historical Review, 57(3), 455-478.)
  10. Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area, Brazil (e.g.: Portes, A. (1979). Housing policy, urban poverty, and the state: the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, 1972–1976. Latin American Research Review, 14(2), 3-24.)
  11. Newcastle Metropolitan Area, UK (e.g.: Palmer, J. E. (1967). Recreational planning—a bibliographical review: This review has been based on a collection compiled with the aid of a grant provided by the City and County of Newcastle upon Tyne. Planning Outlook, 2(1-2), 19-69.)


Ash, M. (1969). Regions of tomorrow: towards the open city. Regions of tomorrow: towards the open city.

Dickinson Robert, E. (1947). City Region and Regionalism. A Geographical contribution to Human Ecology.

Harrison, J., Galland, D., & Tewdwr-Jones, M. (2021). Whither regional planning?. Regional Studies, 55(1), 1-5.

The City Region. Nature 207, 1063–1064 (1965).

Shin, H. B., Zhao, Y., & Koh, S. Y. (2020). Whither progressive urban futures? Critical reflections on the politics of temporality in Asia. City, 24(1-2), 244-254.

Submission Instructions

Proposed submissions could be standard journal length papers (8000 words) or short articles (5000 words). The above listed papers are some examples of the papers published on the historical evolution of specific metropolitan regions. We invite papers targeting, but not limited to, these regions.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article