AbstractThe paper contributes to understanding cities in the world by first outlining the conceptual and empirical challenges of theorizing the urban/global nexus in both relational and territorial terms. It argues that the most useful and appropriate approach to understanding contemporary urban governance in a global context is to develop a conceptualization that is equally sensitive to the role of relational and territorial geographies, of fixity and of flow, of global contexts and of place-specificities (and vice versa), of structural imperatives and of embodied practices, in the production of cities. To illustrate the benefits of this conceptualization, the paper will explore how downtown development is governed in a growing number of cities. The role of the Business Improvement District (BID) model in shaping downtowns will be examined in terms of: (1) how and by whom these models are developed in a global-relational context and are set in motion through scaled circuits of policy knowledge and (2) how the mobilization of these models are conditioned by their territorialization in specific spatial and political economic contexts. The paper emphasizes that the “local globalness” of policy models like BIDs and their consequences for cities can best be understood through a combined focus on relationality and territoriality.
Keywords: Urban Policy Mobilities, Business Improvement Districts, Downtown Revitalization, Urban Politics.