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Comparative urbanism in times of Covid-19 and beyond

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pLiving with a pandemic has transformed the everyday lives of citizens globally. For researchers engaged in qualitative comparative approaches that are contingent on travelling across borders, especially those of us living and writing in locations away from where we research, the pandemic has raised practical and methodological questions. Restricted movements and heightened border controls since March 2020 have transformed our practices as early career academics seeking to work alongside, help advance and build on the rich work within urban geography's comparative conversation. In this article, we build on the comparative tradition within urban studies and geography, reflecting on current efforts to challenge dominant paradigms within the discipline(s). We highlight the specific methodological challenges thrown up by the pandemic and address how we sought to work around potential comparative failures and traps. In particular, we focus on the implications of restricted mobilities and accesses to policy making sites for empirical research. We discuss the notions of site and event as potential entry points for studying virtual and material policy spaces, and for geographical research on urban policy making. Our paper contributes to both ongoing debates about the value and practicalities of a comparative urban agenda, and the methodological questions that reflect a re‐thinking of our relationships with sites and place, and how this impacts a more cosmopolitan, generative and grounded approach to comparative urban studies in the future.</jats:p>


Funder: Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden‐Wuerttemberg, Germany

Funder: European Social Fund; Id:


comparative methodologies, comparative urbanism, conjunctural analysis, Covid-19, digital policy spaces, multi-sited ethnography, relational comparison

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Geography Compass

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