This paper argues that contemporary processes of extended urbanisation, which include suburbanisation, post-suburbanisation and peri-urbanisation, may result in increased vulnerability to infectious disease spread. Through a review of existing literature at the nexus of urbanisation and infectious disease, we consider how this (potential) increased vulnerability to infectious diseases in peri- or suburban areas is in fact dialectically related to socio-material transformations on the metropolitan edge. In particular, we highlight three key factors influencing the spread of infectious disease that have been identified in the literature: demographic change, infrastructure and governance. These have been chosen given both the prominence of these themes and their role in shaping the spread of disease on the urban edge. Further, we suggest how a landscape political ecology framework can be useful for examining the role of socio-ecological transformations in generating increased risk of infectious disease in peri- and suburban areas. To illustrate our arguments we will draw upon examples from various re-emerging infectious disease events and outbreaks around the world to reveal how extended urbanisation in the broadest sense has amplified the conditions necessary for the spread of infectious diseases. We thus call for future research on the spatialities of health and disease to pay attention to how variegated patterns of extended urbanisation may influence possible outbreaks and the mechanisms through which such risks can be alleviated.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: The research for this paper was funded by a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Major Collaborative Research Initiative on Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and Infrastructure. The authors thank participants in a workshop on ‘Health and Suburbanisms’ who gave insightful feedback on an earlier draft of this paper presented at York University in Toronto in October 2018.
- demographic change
- extended urbanisation
- infectious disease
- urban political ecology