Quebec Studies

Introduction: ’Urbs: Suburban and Exurban Spaces in Québec and Francophone Canada

Quebec Studies (2019), 68, (1), 55–58.


Introduction: ’Urbs: Suburban and Exurban Spaces in Québec and Francophone Canada Ceri Morgan Maynooth University ’URBS: SUBURBAN AND EXURBAN SPACES According to Roger Keil, if the twentieth century was marked by urbanization, the twenty-first century is characterized by suburbanization (Keil 2013). As several critics note, most urban expansion across the globe occurs at the peripheries of cities (Ekers, Hamel, and Keil 2015, 22). This can be interpreted as evidence of increasing urbanization. At the same time, we can see suburbanization overtaking urbanization as a lens through which to view contemporary society (de Vidovich 2018, 3). There is a variety of terms used to refer to peripheral urban developments, with just some of the English-language ones being “ethnoburb” (Li 1998), “boomburbs,” “metroburbia,” “edge cities” (Lang and LeFurgy 2007; Knox 2008; Garreau 1991 respectively; qtd. in Hamel and Keil 2016, 650), and “postsuburbia” (Phelps and Wu 2011, qtd. in Keil and Addie 2016, 893). The number of names underlines the difficulty in establishing clear definitions with respect to what these spaces look like, and how we conceptualize them. This difficulty is a characteristic of the phenomenon. Already in 1973, Raymond Williams argued that despite the framing of the rural and urban as separate and often opposing spheres in literature and other forms of cultural and social production, in reality, the two have been closely intertwined: “there is a wide range of settlements between the traditional poles of country and city: suburb, dormitory town, shanty town, industrial estate” (Williams 1975 [1973], 1). In our internet, or “post-internet” (Morissette 2017, 37) age, spatial categorizations can appear even more fluid than Williams describes. There appears to be some consensus amongst certain theorists that suburbs have in common locations on peripheries of cities, relatively low-density housing, and largely residential characters (Vidovich 2018, 4). However, as Andrée Québec Studies, 68

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Author details

Morgan, Ceri