Urbanisation is a response to a particular moment of 21st century global urbanisation within an increasingly re-arranged world. The drivers and locations of contemporary urbanisation are after a long historical gap, in the ‘Global South’ i.e. the countries of Asia, Africa and South America. This moment poses challenges for which we possess neither effective knowledge nor adequate practice. Urbanisation emerges out of three interconnected responses to this moment.

The first is to provide a platform to understand contemporary global urbanisation with a firm footprint in the South. In doing so, we see the ‘Global South’ not as a physical location but as a representative of a particular set of challenges and opportunities that determine the central questions of our age and demand critical analysis and effective intervention.

The second is to build on this new knowledge to re-think the epistemological canon of urbanisation and its associated systems and processes. This ‘canon’ built on a 19th and 20th century imagination and practice has proved to be particular rather than universal. The journal stands firmly with the ‘southern turn’ in urban theory, building new knowledge from the experiences of cities and regions of the Global South to speak with all cities and settlements and re-think the foundations of current urban theory.

The third is to reflexively engage with and theorise practice. Urban questions refuse simple boundaries of sector or domain in addition to discipline or the assumed ‘theory-practice’ divide. The ‘wicked problems’ of cities, city-regions and hybrid rural-urban settlements are sites that defy most canonical knowledge, techniques, methods, categories and terms. Yet there remain few platforms within which to document, reflect upon, critique and analyse practice, let alone imagine new forms and techniques of practice. Some of this is because of the continuing persistence of hierarchies between forms of knowledge and its production – an artificial separation that this journal explicitly seeks to address.