At the beginning of the 21st century more than half the world’s population lives in cities. Most major and minor metropolitan regions are undergoing dramatic transformation, along with the increasingly fluid relationship between cities themselves and those areas that have long been considered their ‘hinterlands’. Both the diversity and speed of these changes, and the fact that they often neither originate in nor are limited to the Western world, have thrown into relief the inadequacies of the modernist way of framing urban analysis through an ecology of urban forms and the distribution of population and institutional centres. At the same time, however, approaches to the urban predicated on the re‐centralizing discourses of ‘globalization’ and ‘postcoloniality’, and on the effects of economic and social restructuring on a global scale, cannot always do justice to the intricate contingencies of local and national contexts of urbanization. The cutting edge of change is often now to be found in dynamic urban cultural initiatives and in public cultures brought into new modes and intensities of contact by media industries, communication technologies and cultural economies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The editors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Australian Research Council for an International Linkages grant (‘Urban Imaginaries/Cultural Landscapes: An Asia-Pacific Transnational and Cross-Cultural Research Collaboration’, 2004–07; LX0453663) enabling us to form the research partnership that has generated this issue of IACS; and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong for a Competitive Earmarked Research Grant (‘“The Company of Strangers”: The Connectedness of Urban Cultural Diversity in 20th-Century Popular Fiction and Cinema [Hong Kong, Darwin, London]’, 2005–06; LU3406/05H) which helped us to extend our research work. Our thanks also go to the staff of the KFCRD and the HRC for hosting this project in so many ways.