Debates centred on ?planetary urbanisation? have raised questions over the adequacy of existing theories and epistemologies to explain the quantitative and qualitative transformations of cities. However, this theorization of the urban has met with opposition from post-colonial and feminist researchers amongst others. The comparative, empirical research in this collection, from Bolivia, India and Turkey, highlights that the city remains an important analytical and concrete framework, demarcated by contingency and cultural change through which residents must navigate. In particular we focus on the specificity of women?s lives and their capacity to problematise universalist theory, documenting their interrogation of simplistic binaries such as modern/traditional; their innovative approaches to informal settlement, housing and markets; their production of urban knowledge in order to negotiate the city; and processes and practices of mobility, experimentation, risk taking and aspiration that contest or support a myriad of urban imaginaries. Whilst not rejecting the need for theories that allow comparative perspectives on cities, our conclusions underscore the importance of recognising the multiple logics that generate city space and urban cultures, and the consequent need to parochialise the empirical basis of theories that claim to be global in outreach.