Development and Urbanization
Since late 1980s, there is an intense debate in urban studies on this issue of universal application of models and theories based on northern cities to the cities of global south irrespective of their different development trajectories. Starting from the rise of post-colonial theory to critical urban theory – everywhere the argument is for localized understanding of urban development and progress instead of explaining them with the help of universal theoretical framework. Following that ideological shift in urban theories, the southern cities are being studied by scholars with a different perspective taking into consideration the context of southern cities themselves. However, new arguments again revolve around big metropolitan cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Thousands of small cities/towns are not touched upon in this theory building process. Although there is an increasing interest among urban scholars to look into smaller cities/towns both in the Global North and South as important centres in urban system of the respective countries, the small cities still remain outside the theory building and planning process. Based on the grounded research in small cities of Eastern India over almost three decades, this article argues that small cities are important places for urban theory building provided we have better understanding on how informal capital accumulation works in these small cities and the local economies are connected to the global economic chains. The paper thus analyses how small cities/towns symbolize ‘other urban’ in the urban theory and planning discourse.