McMaster University Department of Political Science

Adjunct Professor

Political Science 4CA3
Canadian Cities and The Politics of Neoliberal Urbanism


Cities are key sites of political and economic deliberation in Canada. In more recent times, issues of housing affordability, gentrification, inequality and civic inclusion have become frequent points of debate in many municipalities across the country. These debates occur within a political economy of neoliberal urbanism, which looks to neoliberal economic models to confront and mitigate the effects of economic crises and instability. Cities have initiated various strategies within this framework, employing new technologies and economic development models to frame their position as global competitors in the international marketplace of regions. However, not all cities and people are affected the same, as geography, history, culture, economics and migration produce distinct sets of issues across the country.

This course examines the state of Canadian cities by paying specific attention to the political economy and critical intersectionality of the Canadian urban experience. Students will beencouraged to adopt a critical analysis of the multidimensional aspects of Canadian urban politics while engaging with the various issues germane to the politics of cities.


All course materials are available online, through McMaster Libraries or on Avenue to Learn.


Tutorial Participation: 20%
Tutorial Discussion Questions: 15%
Contemporary Issue Analysis: 20%
Research Essay Proposal/Literature Review: 15%
Research Essay: 30%


Tutorial Participation: 20%
Students are expected to attend every class, except in cases of medical or personal emergency. Students should come prepared to participate in class discussions by reading the assigned materials. Individual students will be graded on the quality (not quantity) of their in-class participation. Discussions will be based on active listening and non-violent communication so as to produce an atmosphere of respect and safety in the classroom.

Tutorial Discussion Questions: 15%
This class will use Avenue to Learn to further our in-class discussions. Students will post a 500-word comment for discussion which will include two (2) questions that will be brought up for discussion in class. These comments must be posted by midnight on Tuesday (12:00 A.M. Wednesday).

Contemporary Issue Analysis: 20%
This exercise requires students to connect a current event/issue to the overall themes of the course. Students will pick a topic, sourced from the news media, which speaks to a specific issue in a Canadian city and write a two (2) page analysis. The assignment asks that students: a) briefly describe the event/issue, b) identify the broader themes of the event/issue, including those involved and potential stakeholders, c) draw connections to the course readings (both required and supplementary) through a theoretical analysis of the topic.

Research Essay Proposal/Literature Review: 15%
Before you start your proposal, I encourage you to speak to me (either via e-mail or in person) about your choice of topic. The essay proposal should be no more than 1000 words. The proposal should outline your thesis, 2-4 main arguments, and a bibliography of the literature you are consulting.

Research Essay: 30% (Due November 23)
Students will write a 10-12-page research paper on a topic of their choosing related to the course themes and issues. The essay will be written in double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman and employ Chicago citation format.



Late work will be penalized at 5% per day, including weekends. If there is a medical/personal emergency that will affect your ability to finish your work on time, please let me know in advance of the deadline.


You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is defined as knowingly acting or failing to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g., the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty, please refer to McMaster’s Academic Integrity Policy, located at McMaster University Academic Integrity.

The following illustrate three examples of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g., the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

All students are encouraged to discuss any questions, concerns or insights during my office hours. Alternative times to meet cannot be guaranteed, but please email me to arrange a time if needed. Emails will be answered within 48 hours of their being sent.


Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905- 525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail at [email protected] For further information, consult McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.


The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. Students are responsible for keeping up with the changes, which will either be announced in class or via Avenue to Learn. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.


This course will use Avenue to Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure, please discuss this with the course instructor.


Effective September 1, 2010, it is the policy of the Faculty of Social Sciences that all e-mail communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from the student’s own McMaster University e-mail account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that communication is sent to the university from a McMaster account. If an instructor becomes aware that a communication has come from an alternate address, the instructor may not reply at his or her discretion.


Week One: Introduction: Theorizing Canadian Cities


  • Taylor, Zack, and Gabriel Eidelman. “Canadian Political Science and the City: A Limited Engagement.” Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue Canadienne De Science Politique 43, no. 4 (2010): 961-81.

Week Two: The Political Economy of Cities


  • Harvey, David. “Cities or urbanization?” City 1, no. 1-2 (1996): 38-61.
  • Brenner, Neil. “Theses on urbanization.” Public Culture 25, no. 1 69 (2013): 85-114.
  • Brenner, Neil. “What is critical urban theory?” City 13, no. 2-3 (2009): 198-207.
  • Parker, Brenda. “Feminist forays in the city: Imbalance and intervention in urban research methods.” Antipode 48, no. 5 (2016): 1337-1358.


  • Molotch, Harvey. “The city as a growth machine: Toward a political economy of place.” American journal of sociology 82, no.2 (1976): 309-332.
  • Young, Douglas, and Roger Keil. “Locating the Urban In‐between: Tracking the Urban Politics of Infrastructure in Toronto.” International journal of urban and regional research 38, no. 5 (2014): 1589-1608.

Week Three: Neoliberal Urbanism.


  • Peck, Jamie, Nik Theodore, and Neil Brenner. “Neoliberal urbanism: Models, moments, mutations.” SAIS Review of International Affairs 29, no. 1 (2009): 49-66.
  • Peck, Jamie, Nik Theodore, and Neil Brenner. “Neoliberal urbanismredux?” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37, no. 3 (2013): 1091-1099.
  • Brenner N and Theodore N (2002) “Cities and the geographies of ‘actually existing neoliberalism.’” Antipode 34: 349-379.


  • Peck, Jamie, and Adam Tickell. “Neoliberalizing space.” Antipode 34, no. 3 (2002): 380-404.
  • Robinson, Jennifer. “2010 Urban geography plenary lecture—The travels of urban neoliberalism: Taking stock of the internationalization of urban theory.” Urban Geography 32, no. 8 (2011): 1087-1109.

Week Four: Neoliberal Urbanism. Canadian Context.


  • Keil, Roger. “‘Common–Sense’ Neoliberalism: Progressive Conservative Urbanism in Toronto, Canada.” Antipode 34, no. 3 (2002): 578-601.
  • Wood, Patricia Burke, Susan McGrath, and Julie Young. “The emotional city: Refugee settlement and neoliberal urbanism in Calgary.” Journal of International Migration and Integration 13, no. 1 (2012): 21-37.
  • Fanelli, Carlo. “The city of Toronto fiscal crisis: Neoliberal urbanism and the reconsolidation of class power.” Interdisciplinary Themes Journal 1, no. 1 (2009): 11-18.
  • Albo, Greg. “Neoliberal Urbanism and the New Canadian City.” Relay, 13 (2006): 8-11.


  • Hackworth, J. and Moriah, A., 2006. “Neoliberalism, contingency and urban policy: The case of social housing in Ontario.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30(3), pp.510-527.
  • Fanelli, Carlo. “Neoliberalism & the City.” Canadian Dimension, September 5, 2014.

Week Five: Indigenous Peoples in Colonial/Settler Cities (*ISSUE ANALYSIS DUE)


  • Simpson, L. B. “Nogojiwanong: The Place at the Foot of the Rapids.” In Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Ed.) Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence, and Protection of Indigenous Nations. Winnipeg: ARP Books, 2008. pp. 205-212. [*will be made available through Avenue to Learn]
  • Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. "Decolonization is not a metaphor." Education & Society 1, no. 1 (2012): 1-40.
  • Cardinal, Nathan. “The exclusive city: Identifying, measuring, and drawing attention to Aboriginal and Indigenous experiences in an urban context.” Cities 23, no. 3 (2006): 217-228.
  • DeVerteuil, Geoffrey, and Kathi Wilson. “Reconciling indigenous need with the urban welfare state? Evidence of culturally-appropriate services and spaces for Aboriginals in Winnipeg, Canada.” Geoforum 41, no. 3 (2010): 498-507.


  • Wilson, Kathi, and Evelyn J. Peters. “‘You can make a place for it’: Remapping urban First Nations spaces of identity.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23, no. 3 (2005): 395-413.
  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed Books Ltd., 2013. Chapters 2 and 3.

Week Six: Reading Week

Week Seven: Creative Economies


  • Florida, Richard. “Cities and the creative class.” City & Community 2, no. 1 (2003): 3-19.
  • Peck, Jamie. “Struggling with the creative class.” International journal of urban and regional research 29, no. 4 (2005): 740-770.
  • Scott A J. “Creative cities: conceptual issues and policy questions.” Journal of Urban Affairs 28 (2006): 1-17.
  • Wolfe, David A. “21st century cities in Canada: The geography of innovation.” In Ottawa: Conference Board of Canada. 2009. Ch. 2.


  • Pratt, A.C. and Hutton, T.A., 2013. “Reconceptualising the relationship between the creative economy and the city: Learning from the financial crisis.” Cities, 33, pp.86-95.
  • De Peuter, Greig. “Creative economy and labor precarity: A contested convergence.” Journal of communication inquiry 35, no. 4 (2011): 417-425.

Week Eight: Building Competitive Cities *PROPOSAL DUE*


  • Jessop, Bob. "Liberalism, Neo-Liberalism and Urban Governance: A State Theoretical Perspective." Antipode 34, no. 3 (2002): 452-472.
  • Leitner H. “Cities in pursuit of economic growth: the local state as entrepreneur.” Political Geography Quarterly 9 (1990): 146-170.
  • Kipfer, Stefan, and Roger Keil. “Toronto Inc? Planning the competitive city in the new Toronto.” Antipode 34, no. 2 (2002): 227-264.
  • Wolfe, David A. “21st century cities in Canada: The geography of innovation.” In Ottawa: Conference Board of Canada. 2009. Ch. 2.


Week Nine: City Branding



  • Anttiroiko, Ari‐Veikko. “City branding as a response to global intercity competition.” Growth and change 46, no. 2 (2015): 233- 252.
  • The Corporation of the City of Mississauga. Our Future Mississauga: Growing Our Brand. Mississauga, Ontario. February 26, 2014.

Week Ten: Affordable Housing and Gentrification


  • Smith, Neil. “New globalism, new urbanism: gentrification as global urban strategy.” Antipode 34, no. 3 (2002): 427-450.
  • Slater, Tom. “Municipally managed gentrification in south Parkdale, Toronto.” The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien 48, no. 3 (2004): 303-325.
  • Rolnik, Raquel. “Late neoliberalism: the financialization of homeownership and housing rights.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37, no. 3 (2013): 1058-1066.
  • “No, Toronto, Hamilton didn’t ‘steal’ the idea for their new sign from us.” Toronto Life, July 19, 2017.
  • Berman, Stuart. “The New Hamiltonians.” Toronto Life, June 21, 2017.


  • Mazer, Katie M., and Katharine N. Rankin. “The social space of gentrification: the politics of neighbourhood accessibility in Toronto’s Downtown West.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29, no. 5 (2011): 822-839.

Week Eleven: Peripheral and Mid-Sized Cities


  • Petrov, Andrey N. “Talent in the cold? Creative capital and the economic future of the Canadian North.” Arctic (2008): 162-176. Stolarick, Kevin, Mark Denstedt, Betsy Donald, and Gregory M. Spencer. "Creativity, Tourism and Economic Development in a Rural Context: the case of Prince Edward County." Journal of Rural and Community Development 5, no. 1/2 (2010): 238-254.
  • Bain, Alison, and Dylann McLean. “From post to poster to post-industrial: Cultural networks and eclectic creative practice in Peterborough and Thunder Bay, Ontario.” Creative Economies in Post-industrial Cities: Manufacturing a (Different) Scene (2013): 97-121.
  • Lewis, Nathaniel M., and Betsy Donald. "A new rubric for ‘creative city’ potential in Canada’s smaller cities." Urban studies 47, no. 1 (2010): 29-54.


  • Petrov, Andrey N. “A Look beyond Metropolis: Exploring Creative Class in the Canadian Periphery.” Canadian Journal of Regional Science 30, no. 3 (2007): 451-478.
  • Shields, Rob. “Feral suburbs: Cultural topologies of social reproduction, Fort McMurray, Canada.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 15, no. 3 (2012): 205-215.

Week Twelve: Smart Cities *RESEARCH PAPER DUE*



  • Rabari, Chirag, and Michael Storper. “The digital skin of cities: urban theory and research in the age of the sensored and metered city, ubiquitous computing and big data.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 8, no. 1 (2014): 27-42.
  • Alizadeh, Tooran. “A policy analysis of digital strategies: Brisbane vs. Vancouver.” International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development 6, no. 2 (2015): 85-103.
  • Angelidou, Margarita. “Smart city policies: A spatial approach.” Cities 41 (2014): S3-S11.

Week Thirteen: Sanctuary Cities


  • Nyers, Peter. “No one is illegal between city and nation.” Studies in social justice 4, no. 2 (2010): 127-143.
  • Varsanyi, Monica W. “Neoliberalism and nativism: Local anti‐immigrant policy activism and an emerging politics of scale.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35, no. 2 (2011): 295-311.
  • Young, Julie EE. “‘A New Politics of the City’: Locating the Limits of Hospitality and Practicing the City-as-Refuge J.” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 10, no. 3 (2011): 534-563.
  • Vanolo, Alberto. “Smartmentality: The smart city as disciplinary strategy.” Urban Studies 51, no. 5 (2014): 883-898.


  • Ridgley, Jennifer. “Cities of refuge: Immigration enforcement, police, and the insurgent genealogies of citizenship in US sanctuary cities.” Urban Geography 29, no. 1 (2008): 53-77.
  • Alizadeh, Tooran. “A policy analysis of digital strategies: Brisbane vs. Vancouver.” International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development 6, no. 2 (2015): 85-103.
  • Angelidou, Margarita. “Smart city policies: A spatial approach.” Cities 41 (2014): S3-S11.

Student Feedback

"Professor Angela Orasch was a fantastic instructor for this course. She is highly knowledgable on the course material and applies concepts/theories to topics that are relevant to us, making them more intriguing. Professor Orasch is readily available to provide support to her students in the classroom and in her office. This was one of the first courses in my undergraduate experience that I felt comfortable speaking in class discussions; she welcomes all ideas and encourages critical thinking. The department of political science should look to Professor Orasch in improving classroom environments that are welcoming to all students. I find that the department lacks in professors who are as passionate and inspiring as Angela Orasch. Professors like her should should be teaching more courses at McMaster. I would highly recommend any of her classes to colleagues and other students."

Course Evaluation Survey Response

Overall Quality of Instructor

"I have learned more during this class than any other class I've taken at McMaster University. Prior to taking this class, I was unaware of the implications associated with Canadian political economy. The course content remained thought provoking and interesting throughout the entire semester. The required essay allows students to apply theory and analysis to an interesting topic of their choice. This ensures students are studying topics that are intriguing to them while furthering their knowledge on neoliberal urbanism in Canada. I would argue that this class (or one similar) should be made compulsory for those seeking a political science degree. It successfully applies previously learned theories to the politics of cities; a component that is seemingly missing from McMaster's BA in Political Science."

Course Evaluation Response

Overall Quality of Learning Experience


McMaster University

  • Political Science 2006, Political Theory
  • Political Science 2F03, Politics Power and Influence in Canada
  • Teaching Assistant Excellence Award, Nominated in 2016 & 2017