Cities have long served as connecting points between geographically dispersed places. Over the last couple of centuries, urban populations have grown more and more rapidly, and technologies of mobility and communication have made them focal points of increasingly global flows. They have also become centers of tighter political control. The rise of Western world empires and political and economic imperialism have been critical in shaping migration patterns and the circulation of technologies and commodities. This course examines cities – densely populated, extensively built up, intensively surveilled urban zones – and the mobile people, ideas and commodities that shape them. We consider urban expansion from the early modern period onwards, and focus on the era after the late nineteenth century, when cities displace other spaces as the paradigmatic arenas of modern life. Starting with an introduction to key concepts, questions and trajectories in urban history, we then turn to case studies of major cities from a variety of locations (in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas). While the course is global in scope, we focus on cities that were integral to relationships of modern colonialism and imperialism, such as London, Mumbai and New York. Reading and discussion topics may include: government planning and urban development, everyday life, built form and architecture, public health and sanitation, policing and surveillance, housing and poverty relief, global capitalist transformations, or the politics of cultural difference, and the formation and negotiation of public spheres.