The biogeopolitics of cities: a critical enquiry across Jerusalem, Phnom Penh, Toronto

Giorgio Talocci, Donald Brown, Haim Yacobi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Dwelling on a disciplinary threshold between urban planning and urban health, we take a comparative historical perspective on the urban development of three cities–Jerusalem, Phnom Penh and Toronto–highlighting how the evolution of their socio-spatial fabrics has been shaped by decisively biopolitical approaches. In line with current studies, we remark how the will to control the cities’ territories and populations has intertwined with policy concerns over urban health, and discourses on the need to isolate urban environments–artificially or rhetorically constructed as unhealthy. We propose, however, a shift toward the concept of urban biogeopolitics–noticing how the present-day Covid-19 outbreak has exposed the limits of biopolitical analyses, and of their dichotomic understanding of inner vs. outer forms of power and control. Biogeopolitics becomes therefore a powerful conceptual lens to explain how past crises and the current one have transcended the boundaries of what we are accustomed to understand as urban realm. How do biogeopolitical discourses and technologies become instrumental in the control of urban territories and their populations? How, in other words, are urban planning and urban health affected by regional and trans-local forces?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-189
Number of pages21
JournalPlanning Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Biopolitics
  • Jerusalem
  • Phnom Penh
  • Toronto
  • epidemic
  • geopolitics
  • urban health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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