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Keil, Roger H

 Keil_Roger H

Keil, Roger H


Urban Studies Coordinator

Dr.Phil. (Political Science) , Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität

Global Suburbanisms Infectious Disease and Cities Urban Political Ecology Urban Infrastructures Urban Governance and Planning

I am a political scientist working on local, urban and regional politics and I have made my intellectual home predominantly in urban geography and urban studies. My substantive research areas are urban political ecology, cities and infectious disease and global suburbanization. Governance and politics remain the connecting tissue between these areas. This means I am particularly interested, in my research and teaching, in how we govern ourselves, our societal relationships with nature, our mobilities and our health in cities and suburbs. As the founding director of York University’s City Institute (CITY) (2006-13), I led a large international project on “Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century” (2010-19). A book series with the title Global Suburbanisms and a short monograph on our Suburban Planet capture this work. Subsequently, from 2015-9, I held a York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies.

The relationship of urbanization and infectious disease has been a main interest of mine from SARS in 2003 to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. My York sociology colleague S.Harris Ali and I have generated a series of highly recognized articles and our edited book Networked Disease (2009) which was named recently as one of “ten books that offer lessons from past pandemics” by the Globe & Mail. I am a co-investigator with Ali and other scholars in an IDRC sponsored research project led on community responses to Ebola in West Africa and the DRC and am currently working on a number of COVID-19 related project.



2019      (LOI accepted) Principal Applicant with Jianhong Wu (York) and James Orbinski (York), Healthy Cities Training Initiative (HCTI): an intelligent urban health and resilient monitoring, assessment, and management Platform and Network for Resilient, Healthy Canadian Cities, Letter of Intent, Training Grant: CIHR-NSERC-SSHRC Healthy Cities Research Training Platform (HCRI). $25,000.

Canadian cities and their residents face significant challenges due to climate change and the rising frequency and severity of disasters that couple with the aging infrastructures and technological disruption.

The socio-economic and environmental resilience of Canadian cities requires enabling conditions where healthy individuals and communities can thrive, and where institutions,organizations and infrastructures can adapt swiftly and appropriately to the new and emerging conditions through timely and embedded adaptation, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery strategies that are science and evidence-based. Such conditions are not automatic but rely on political decisions, democratic process and community involvement at all stages of design and implementation. Today’s challenges require a new generation of highly qualified personnel (HQP) equipped with skills and training to be able to facilitate and conduct collaboration across sectors, services and professional or disciplinary silos, as well as an enhanced ability to work directly with urban residents, decision-makers, and other stakeholders. We will develop a Healthy Cities Training Initiative, whose Network and Platform will interact synergistically to produce a new generation of leadership and innovations to enable the conditions for resilient, healthy Canadian cities. We will create a Network of academics and their collaborating stakeholders across municipal, provincial and federal levels to mentor and develop trainees for development of an effective, data driven, intelligent health and resilience monitoring, assessment, and management Platform. The Platform will draw on causal mapping, state-of -the-art artificial intelligence and big data technologies to create targeted analytics and goal oriented Data Dashboards, and for complexity agent-based simulation and Scenario Planning. Such innovations will then be applied to the social, environmental and health challenges faced by Canadian cities.

2018-20 Co-applicant with Harris Ali (York, PI), Mosoka Fallah (NPHIL, PI) and others, The Role of Social, Cultural and Environmental Factors in Improving Ebola Virus Disease Response and Resilience: Exploring the Potential of Community-Based Initiatives, IDRC Rapid Research Fund for Ebola Virus Outbreaks, $359,989.75.

Our research project can be understood to have two main objectives.

The first is to identify and analyze the social (we use this term to include the cultural, political and economic dimensions) and environmental dimensions of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreaks in West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The second is to use our insights from West Africa to improve existing public health response strategies in the DRC through the application of community-based initiatives.

2018-21 Co-applicant with Raktim Mitra (PI) and others, SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, StudentMoveTO: From Insight to Action on Transportation for Post-secondary Students in the GTHA, $ 199,934

We are a 3-year research and partnership program focusing on an improved understanding of the travel behaviour of 600,000 post-secondary students in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), Canada.

This program will explore transportation patterns of post-secondary students, and the potential social and environmental influences on their travel behaviour, and the effect of students’ travel on their social well-being and urban systems.

Through partnerships between students, researchers,universities, policy makers, and communities, we will create new pathways for public policy, institutional planning and enhanced student support services.

2015-17 Co-applicant with Jonathan Davies (PI), Pierre Hamel et al., ESRC funded consortium project (ES/L012898/1), Collaborative Governance under Austerity: An eight-case Comparative Study. £435,131.

The focus of the project research was how collaboration contributes to the governance of austerity. Governments and public service leaders argue that collaboration with businesses, voluntary organisations and active citizens is essential for addressing the many challenges posed by austerity. The challenges include transforming public services to cope with cuts, changing citizen expectations and managing demand for services and enhancing the legitimacy of difficult policy decisions by involving people outside government in making them.

But at the same time, collaboration can be exclusionary. For example, if there are high levels of protest, governmental and business elites may collaborate in ways that marginalise ordinary citizens to push through unpopular policies. The challenge is to explore different ways in which collaboration works or fails in governing austerity and whether it is becoming more or less important in doing so.

In exploring these issues, Collaborative Governance under Austerity: An Eight-Case Comparative Study aims to learn something about the urban condition in and after austerity, reflecting comparatively on how cities are governed, the role played by citizens and publics and what might have changed through the years of austerity.


2014 Research Grant, Metrolinx, Co-applicant with Sean Hertel, Policy levers to close suburban transportation equity and public benefit gaps in the Toronto region, $39,100.

Next Stop: Equity – Routes to fairer transit access in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is a landmark report released by CITY in February 2016, urging a call to action for transit equity, as the Province of Ontario continues to roll out a $50-billion investment in 1,200 km rapid transit across the GTHA. The report is a response to widening gaps between affordable housing and employment opportunities that have converged, in combination structural decades-long social inequities that have persisted and worsened in the urban periphery, to make transit service disparities especially severe in suburban areas. Overall, the historic lack of transit investment means many living in the “inner ring” or “905” suburbs of Toronto must either have access to a car or find a home somewhere else.

GTSWG coordinators Sean Hertel and Roger Keil, in collaboration with MES student Michael Collens released Switching Tracks: Towards transit equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area in March 2015. This report, based on research funded by Ontario's regional transportation agency Metrolinx, provides a survey of existing research and practice on transit equity and justice. Using insights and examples from around the world, the report notes the importance of making equity concerns a priority in transit planning. It is meant to inspire debate on transit equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

2010-19 Major Collaborative Research Initiative, Global Suburbanisms: Governance, Land and Infrastructure in the 21st Century (PI, with Robin Bloch, Lisa Drummond, Pierre Filion, Jill Grant, Shubhra Gururani, Pierre Hamel, Richard Harris, Sonia Hirt, Paul Knox, Ute Lehrer, Zhigang Li, Alan Mabin, Jochen Monstadt, Jan Nijman, Jamie Peck, Nicholas Phelps, Rob Shields, Benjamin Solomon, Fulong Wu, Elvin Wyly, Douglas Young); $2,500,000.

Urbanization is at the core of the global economy today. Yet, the crucial aspect of 21st century urban development is suburbanization - defined as an increase in non-central city population and economic activity, as well as urban spatial expansion. It includes all manner of peripheral growth: from the wealthy gated communities of Southern California, to the high rise-dominated suburbs of Europe and Canada, the exploding outskirts of Indian and Chinese cities, and the slums and squatter settlements in Africa and Latin America.

Suburbanism is the growing prevalence of qualitatively distinct 'suburban ways of life'. This Major Collaborative Research Initiative is the first major research project to systematically take stock of worldwide developments.

We analyze recent forms of urbanization and emerging forms of (sub)urbanism as well as the dilemmas of aging suburbanity. We broadly focus on the governance of suburbanization, that is, efforts to guide and regulate its development. It involves state, market and civil society actors and implies democratic deliberation and social conflict. The categories land, which includes housing, shelter systems, real estate, greenbelts, megaprojects, and infrastructure, including transportation, water and social services, serve as the two prime anchors upon which we hinge specific research projects. Examination of Canadian suburbanization and suburbanism will serve as a basis and comparative "control" case to understand suburbanization in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.


  • York President's Research Excellence Award

Selected Publications

Recent Books and Monographs

2020 (ed. with Judy Branfman) Don Parson - Public Los Angeles: A Private City’s Activist Futures. University of Georgia Press

2019  (ed. w K. Murat Güney and Murat Üçoğlu) Massive Suburbanization: (Re) Building the Global Periphery (University of Toronto Press Global Suburbanisms series).

2018 Suburban Planet: Making the World Urban from the Outside In. Cambridge: Polity.

2018 (ed. with Xuefei Ren) The Globalizing Cities Reader (Global Cities Reader 2nd ed.). Routledge

2017 (ed. with JA Boudreau, P Hamel & S Kipfer) Governing Cities Through Regions: Canadian and European Perspectives, Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

2015 (ed. with P Hamel) Suburban Governance: A Global View. Toronto: UTP.

2013 (ed.) Suburban Constellations. Berlin: Jovis Verlag.

2011 (ed. with Douglas Young and Patricia Burke Wood), In-Between Infrastructure: Urban Connectivity in an Age of Vulnerability. Kelowna, BC: Praxis(e) Press.

2009 (ed. with Rianne Mahon) Leviathan Undone? Towards a Political Economy of Scale. Vancouver: UBC Press.

2009 (with Julie-Anne Boudreau and Douglas Young) Changing Toronto: Governing Urban Neoliberalism. Toronto: UTP-Broadview Press.

2008 (ed. with Harris Ali) Networked Disease: Emerging Infections in the Global City. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Studies in Urban and Social Change Series

2006 (ed. with N.Brenner) The Global Cities Reader. London and New York: Routledge 

2004 (with G. Desfor) Nature and the City: Making Environmental Policy in Toronto and Los Angeles (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, Nature and Society Series)

1998 Los Angeles: Globalization, Urbanization, and Social Struggles. Chichester, U.K.: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 296 pp

Refereed Articles in Scholarly Journals

2020 (with Samantha Biglieri and Lorenzo De Vidovich) The City as the Core of Contagion? Repositioning COVID-19 at the social and spatial periphery of urban society, Cities & Health

2020 The Spatialized Political Ecology of the City: Situated Peripheries and the Capitalocenic Limits of Urban Affairs, Journal of Urban Affairs; 10.1080/07352166.2020.1785305

2020 (with Creighton Connolly and S.Harris Ali) On the Relationships Between COVID-19 and Extended Urbanisation, Dialogues in Human Geography. https://doi.org/10.1177/2043820620934209

2020 (with Dallas Rogers and others) Sound and solidarity on the airwaves: Lessons from the 'COVID City' podcast, Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie / Journal of Economic and Social Geography. DOI:10.1111/tesg.12426,

2020 (with Creighton Connolly and S.Harris Ali) Extended urbanisation and the spatialities of infectious disease: Demographic change, infrastructure and governance, Urban Studies,  https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098020910873

2020 (with Yannis Tzaninis, Tait Mandler, Maria Kaika) Moving Urban Political Ecology beyond the “Urbanization of Nature”, Progress in Human Geography, DOI: 10.1177/0309132520903350

2020 (with Fulong Wu) Changing the geographies of sub/urban theory: Asian perspectives, Urban Geography; https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2020.1712115

2019 (with Pierre Hamel) 'La coopération, c’est clé': Montreal’s urban governance in times of austerity, Journal of Urban Affairs, 42:1, 109-124, DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2019.1676647

2019 The city into theory – Theory in Toronto. Contribution to review symposium on Margaret Kohn’s The Death and Life of the Urban Commonwealth, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

2018 After Suburbia: research and action in the suburban century, Urban Geography, DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2018.1548828 (Urban Geography Plenary Lecture, AAG 2018).

2018 The empty shell of the planetary: Re-rooting the urban in the experience of the urbanites, Urban Geography. DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2018.1451018

2018 Canadian Suburbia: From the Periphery of Empire to the Frontier of the Sub/Urban Century, Zeitschrift für Kanadastudien, 38, 1, Issue 68

2018 Extended urbanization, “disjunct fragments” and global suburbanisms, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36(3) 494–511 https://doi.org/10.1177/0263775817749594

2016 (with P. Filion) Contested infrastructures: Tension, inequity and innovation in the global suburb, Urban Policy and Research, DOI: 10.1080/08111146.2016.1187122

2016 (with S. Macdonald) Rethinking urban political ecology from the outside in: Greenbelts and boundaries in the post-suburban city, Local Environment, DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2016.1145642

2016 (with JP Addie) ‘It’s not going to be suburban, it’s going to be all urban’: Assembling Post-Suburbia in the Toronto and Chicago Regions, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39,5 (September), 892-911.

2015 Towers in the park, bungalows in the garden: Peripheral densities, metropolitan scales and the political cultures of post-suburbia, Built Environment, 41,4:  579-596.

2015 (with E. Charmes) Post-suburban morphologies in Canada and France: Beyond the anti-sprawl debate, IJURR D&D 39,3: 581-602.

2015 (with JP Addie) Real existing regionalism: The region between talk, territory and technology, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39,2 (March), 407-17.

2015 (with JP Addie and K.Olds) “Beyond town and gown”: Higher education institutions, territoriality and the mobilization of new urban structures, Territory, Politics, Governance, 3,1: 27-50.

2014 (with D. Young) Locating the urban in-between: Tracking the urban politics of infrastructure in Toronto, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38,5 (September): 1589-1608.

2013 “At one remove?” Warren Magnusson sees like a city and finds the world, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37,2: 793-797.

Chapters in Books

2020 (with Jean-Paul Addie and Rob Fiedler) Cities on the edge: Suburban constellations in Canada, in Markus Moos, Tara Vinodrai and Ryan Walker (eds.) Canadian Cities in Transitions, Sixth edition, Toronto: OUP.

2020 (with Derek Brunelle) Government, politics, and suburbanization in Los Angeles, In: Jan Nijman, ed. The Life of North American Suburbs (University of Toronto Press Global Suburbanisms series), 289-306.

2019 (with Pierre Filion and Nina Pulver) Introduction: Suburban Infrastructures as Vehicles of Integration and Fragmentation, In: Pierre Filion and Nina Pulver, eds. Global Suburban Infrastructure: Social Restructuring, Governance and Equity. (University of Toronto Press Global Suburbanisms series).

2019 (with K. Murat Güney and Murat Üçoğlu) Introduction: Massive Suburbanization – Political Economy, Ethnography, Governance, In: K. Murat Güney, Roger Keil and Murat Üçoğlu, eds. Massive Suburbanization: (Re) Building the Global Periphery (University of Toronto Press Global Suburbanisms series).

2019 (with K. Murat Güney and Murat Üçoğlu) Conclusion: Massive Suburbia: From Legacy of the Habitat to the Financialization of Housing in the Planetary Periphery, In: K. Murat Güney, Roger Keil and Murat Üçoğlu, eds. Massive Suburbanization: (Re) Building the Global Periphery (University of Toronto Press Global Suburbanisms series).

2019 Paved Paradise: The Suburb as Chief Artifact of the Anthropocene and Terrain of New Political Performativities, in Henrik Ernstson and Erik Swyngedouw (eds.) Interrupting the Anthropo-ob(S)cene: Political Possibilities in the Natures of Cities, Routledge

2018 (with Pierre Hamel) Toward a Comparative Global Suburbanism, In: Bernadette Hanlon and Thomas J. Vicino, eds. The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs

2018 Constructing global suburbia, one critical theory at a time, in John Harrison and Michael Hoyler (eds.) Doing Global Urban Research, Sage.

2017 Thinking the suburb globally: divesting the world’s peripheries from the white picket fence In Center for Advanced Urbanism, in Alan Berger and Joel Kotkin(eds.)  Infinite Suburbia. Princeton.

2017 (with Neil Brenner) From global cities to globalized urbanization, in Neil Brenner, Critique of Urbanization: Selected Essays. Gütersloh and Berlin: Bauverlag, 69-84.

2017 (with Richard Harris) Globalizing cities and suburbs, in Alison Bain and Linda Peake (eds.) Urbanization in a Global Context: A Canadian Perspective. OUP, 52-69.

2016 (with Harris Ali, Barlu Dumbuya, Michaela Hynie, Pablo Idahosa, and Patricia Perkins), The Social and Political Dimensions of the Ebola Response: Global Inequality, Climate Change, and Infectious Disease, in Walter Leal Filho, Ulisses M. Azeiteiro, Fátima Alves (eds.), Climate Change and Health: Improving Resilience and Reducing Risks. Cham: Springer, 151-170.

2016 The prospect of suburbs: rethinking the urban field on a planet of cities, in Haripriya Rangan, Mee Kam Ng, Jacquelyn Chase and Libby Porter (eds.) Insurgencies and Revolutions: Reflections on John Friedmann’s Contributions to Planning Theory and Practice, Informa.

2016 Suburban, In Mark Jayne and Kevin Ward (eds.) Urban Theory: New Critical Perspectives. London: Routledge: 276-88.

2016 Urban Neoliberalism, In Simon Springer, Kean Birch and Julie MacLeavy, (eds.) Handbook of Neoliberalism, Routledge.

2016 (with Sean Hertel) „Erst reden, dann handeln“ – Die Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group und der Um/bau der städtischen Peripherie in Kanadas diverser Metropole, In Johann Jessen and Frank Roost (eds.) Refitting Suburbia. Berlin: Jovis.

2015 (with P. Hamel) Introduction, In: P.Hamel and R. Keil (eds.) Suburban Governance: A Global View. Toronto: UTP: 3-15.

2015 (with M. Ekers and P. Hamel) Governing Suburbia: Modalities and Mechanisms of Suburban Governance, In: P.Hamel and R. Keil (eds.) Suburban Governance: A Global View. Toronto: UTP: 19-48.

2015 (with P.Hamel, E.Chou, K. Williams) Modalities of suburban governance in Canada, In: P.Hamel and R. Keil (eds.) Suburban Governance: A Global View. Toronto: UTP: 80-109.

2015 (with P.Hamel) Conclusion: Suburban Governance: Convergent and Divergent Dynamics, In: P.Hamel and R. Keil (eds.) Suburban Governance: A Global View. Toronto: UTP: 349-358.

2015 Canadian Suburbanization (with JP Addie and R.Fiedler) In Pierre Filion, Tara Vinodrai, Ryan Walker and Markus Moos (eds.) Canadian Cities in Transition. 5th edtn. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 

2014 (with D. Young) In-Between Mobility in Toronto’s New (Sub)Urban Neighbourhoods, In Paul Watt and Peer Smets, (eds.) Neighbourhoods,Mobilities and Belonging in the City and Suburb. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

2014 Diseased, In Peter Adey, David Bissell, Kevin Hannam, Peter Merriman and Mimi Sheller, The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities, London and New York, Routledge, 388-397.

2013 Global City Challenges: A Sympathetic Post-Script, In Michele Acuto and Wendy Steele (eds.) Global City Challenges: Debating a Concept, Improving the Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 232-6.

2013 Welcome to the suburban revolution, In: Roger Keil (ed.) Suburban Constellations. Berlin: Jovis, 8-15.

2013 Escape from the burbs, In: Roger Keil (ed.) Suburban Constellations. Berlin: Jovis, 200.

2013 (with S. Hertel) Making them talk, then act together: The Greater Toronto Suburban Working Group, In: Roger Keil (ed.) Suburban Constellations. Berlin: Jovis, 130-136.

2013 (with R. Shields) Suburban boundaries: beyond greenbelts and edges, In: Roger Keil (ed.) Suburban Constellations. Berlin: Jovis, 71-78.


Fall 2020 Global Cities

Winter 2021 Regional Governance