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Airports are key catalysts for urban growth and economic development in an era of global urbanization. In addition to their global economic functions, the multiscalar connectivity and localized impacts of air transport infrastructure place them at the heart of city-regional politics and planning. Yet the relations between global air transport, economic development and city-regionalism remain under-theorized. This paper introduces the concept of aero-regionalism to explore the relationality/territoriality dialectic and mechanisms of state territorialization unfurling at the nexus of globalization, air transport, city-regionalism and air transport. I provide a relational geographic comparison of the impact of varying local institutional arrangements and policy frameworks on the political and infrastructural integration of airports in the global city-regions of Chicago and Toronto. The paper analyzes the relative significance of variations in local transportation and planning systems to develop our understanding of the relations between global aviation infrastructures and their surrounding regional spaces, and the connectivity between major global ports and local transportation capillaries in global city-regions. The concept of aero-regionalism advances our understanding of the urban political economy of airports by uncovering how competitive economic globalization, state spatiality and the development of large-scale airport infrastructures are mediated through the symbiotic, if contested, co-production of urban and air space. While divergent governance regimes have shaped the development of urban transportation networks in the two case city-regions, the imperatives of globalization and neoliberalization are pressuring the material, political and discursive regionalization of airport space while privileging the logics of premium networked mobility.


Accepted manuscript version of an article published by Elsevier in:

Addie, J.-P. D. (2014). Flying high (in the competitive sky): Conceptualizing the role of airports in global city-regions through “aero-regionalism.” Geoforum, 55, 87–99.

Republished in Rex, X., and Keil, R. (eds.) The Globalizing Cities Reader, (New York: Routledge) pp.176-182.

(New York: Routledge) pp.176-182