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The Governance of the City

Even if medieval cities recognizably conditioned early state-formation in Europe and the idea of citizenship, the rapidly increasing urbanization of the world has created large metropolitan areas that exceed the traditional competences of local governments while lacking the fiscal and political resources of nation-states. The notion of ‘global cities’ (Saskia Sassen) that compete among themselves as hubs for international economic and financial flows, came to relativize the historical relevance of the states, but they continue to lack the main attribute of political modernity: territorial sovereignty. The regulation of the economic flows that characterize global cities, together with the associated social and demographic dynamics, require a type of policy interventions that lies beyond their sphere of competence. The relation between cities and states has thus a theoretical saliency that is far from being exhausted by the generic claims for ‘local democracy’. The governance of the city needs to address core political issues, like supra-municipal decentralization or the structure of territorial meso-governments. Similarly, the idea of federalism and territorial representation needs to be reframed from the regional to the urban dimension. There is in fact a new series of city-states (like Singapore or the United Arab Emirates), that has forced the updating of the agenda on the local/transnational axis in the scale of governance. This section of the project will deal with the normative underpinnings of urban governance, putting special emphasis on its metropolitan dimension. Departing from a historical perspective, it will bring into consideration the normative and regulatory templates that can be recognized behind the reorganization of several metropolitan areas in the world.