Throughout history, cities have functioned as centers of political and economic power, from which the agricultural and resource-rich hinterlands were controlled. From the nineteenth century onward, new technologies, transportation modes, and the opening of new trade routes have expanded distances and introduced remarkable complexity to the relationship between cities and their productive hinterlands – hinterlands have continued to expand, globalize, and «disintegrate», both as distinct territorial entities and as legible objects of governance or study. This research is based on a hypothesis that a revised understanding of the city-hinterland relationship, the ability to conceptualize it in qualitative terms, and to influence it by means of political (planning, design) strategies is central to addressing urban sustainability. The transnational hinterland archipelago that supports urbanization in Singapore – the central research case – is one of the world’s most globally networked agglomerations. In contrast to standard representations of cities as self-propelled economic powerhouses, we track the wide-ranging flows of food, water, energy, sand, and labor-power that support this growing, globally strategic urban center. Instead of the city-state, we propose the cross-border metropolitan region as the new urban paradigm for Singapore.
Asst. Prof. Milica Topalovic