SCD projects

New forms of collective urban life

AbdouMaliq Simone


Cities in the Global South are experiencing substantial changes in forms of collective life. Former arrangements anchored in certain configurations of labour, housing, gender, politics and uses of the city are being unmade. The new forms that are emerging in their place are unexpected, inspiring and disturbing in their attempts to manage both the seemingly intractable problems of metropolitan areas from high levels of inequality to the messiness of everyday life, as well as navigate significant economic, political and demographic changes. The project investigates these changes and the emergent politics and forms of collective life by engaging with the everyday of five cities: Delhi, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Yangon and São Paulo, with colleagues Teresa Caldeira, Gautam Bhan and Kelly Gillespie.

The work focuses largely on Jakarta and Yangon by examining the disentanglement of long-hone self-evolved districts and economies, the resettlement of larger swathes of the population to large-scale vertical housing complexes and the concomitant remaking of collective action, conceptualizations of residence and urban life, as well as household units. Major findings so far point to a major transformation in how residents think about urban life, the valorization of circulation through more expansive urban circuits and heterogeneous economic and social networks and the prolific re-assembly of collective life under new, more provisional modalities that often diverge from the imaginaries suggested by the new built environments in which people increasingly reside.