AbdouMaliq Simone


AbdouMaliq Simone is an urbanist and research professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and visiting professor of sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, visiting professor at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, research associate with the Rujak Center for Urban Studies in Jakarta, and research fellow at the University of Tarumanagara.

For three decades I have worked with practices of social interchange, cognition, local economy, and the constitution of power relations that affect how heterogeneous African and Southeast Asian cities are lived.  I not only have acquired a substantial understanding of urban processes and change in these regions as a body of academic knowledge, but have worked on the concrete challenges of remaking municipal systems, training local government personnel, designing collaborative partnerships among technicians, residents, artists,and politicians.

Above all, the focus of these efforts has to been to build viable institutions capable of engaging with the complexities of life across the so-called "majority world."
My work deals with a multiplicity of propositions, skills, inclinations, hunches, and convictions, and capacities for relationships that remain untapped in popular districts across urban Asia and Africa, even though they are deployed everyday.  This is not a matter of celebrating the informal; it is not a matter of the subaltern getting their due.  This is discovering the incipient formation of a new city in the intricate relational meshes of how things get done, a city that is more inclusive and which maximizes the resourcefulness of its inhabitants, that suggests new ways for institutions to concretely connect with their constituents and for the practices of residents to inform the operations of those very institutions. Currently I am looking at ways in which youth in different cities imagine their future urban lives and the practices they put to work in dealing with increasing uncertainty and the simultaneous openings and closures of spaces of maneuver.

In Jakarta and Phnom Penh, I have been training a new generation of young urban researchers, paying particular attention to low income community residents attempting to make their political organizations better able to address the spatial redevelopments that further marginalize their possibilities of livelihood.

In Jakarta I work with residents in three large central city districts to examine changing forms of collective life.. The objective is to explore how long-term complementarities and collaboration can be renovated and built upon in face of urban policies and political agendas that threaten to spatially and socially disentangle them. In the process, we have stretched the boundaries concerning what works, what is viable and sustainable; which in turn provides different kinds of urban actors a more resilient platform to assess what is possible.

Links of Affiliations:

African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town info

Program on World Cities and Urban Life, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London info

Rujak Center for Urban Studies info

AbdouMaliq Simone blogs at Villes-Noires, located at: