AbdouMaliq Simone is an urbanist and research professor at the University of South Australia and 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 cities are lived. In the past six years I have sought to re-examine some of these issues in urban Southeast Asia. I not only have acquired a substantial understanding of urban processes and change in Africa and Southeast Asia 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." When discourses of governance that emphasize transparency and accountability are both important but often useless, that challenge has been to try and put together institutions that converse with a larger world of politics and economy but are still able to valorize the many small attainments that have kept these cities dynamic under adverse conditions. For almost ten years I helped to develop various facets of post-apartheid urban governance systems in South Africa—from local government legislation to national urban development policy.
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: