Urban Humans


Today over half of the world’s expanding population live in cities. What does this mean for being an ‘urban human’? Answering this question requires knowledge of how technological, environmental, biological and political changes affect urban life. It is also necessary to understand how urban humans are imagined and how these framings inform city processes.

The theme advances our understanding of the distinctive nature of the 21st Century ‘urban human’ and examines implications for policy-making, planning and design.

Research Questions

  • Do assistive technologies, architectures and creative interventions extend human capacities and functionality beyond existing human norms?
  • How does urban life shape the corporeality and physical/mental health of bodies and does this produce a distinctive type of urban human?
  • Does the need to live with others and deal with tensions generate questions about specifically ‘urban’ human rights?
  • What survival strategies are needed for the marginalised urban human that improvises on the edge of the formal economy?


Theme Lead: AbdouMaliq Simone

UI Members: Jonathan Silver  | Beth Perry

Associates: Michele Lancione | Anant Maringanti, Hyderabad Urban Lab | Prasad Shetty, School of Environment and Urbanism Mumbai | Rodrigo Castriota, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil | Miya Irawati, National University of Singapore | Teresa Caldeira, University of Berkeley, California | Gautam Bhan, Indian Institute for Human Settlements | Kelly Gillespie, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town




Journal articles
Book chapters

Simone, AM (2019) On Hold. In Ricky Burdett and Philipp Rode (eds.) Shaping Cities in an Urban Age. London: Phaidon.

Simone, AM (2019) Relational Economy. In Anthony Orum (ed.) The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia on Urban and Regional Studies. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Simone, AM (2018) The Politics of Increments in Collective Urban Action. In Rita Padawangi (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Urbanisation in Southeast Asia. London; New York: Routledge.

Simone, AM (2018) Precarious Detachments: circulating futures in urban Southeast Asia. In Setha Low (ed.) Routledge Handbook on the Anthropology of the City: Engaging the Urban and the Future. London; New York: Routledge.

Simone, AM (2018) Detachment Down South: On Salvage Operations and City-making. In Kerry Byström, Ashleigh Harris and Andrew Webber (eds.) Cities of the South/Cities of the North. London; New York: Routledge.

Simone, AM (2018) Inoperable Relations and Urban Change. In Russell West-Pavlov (ed.) The Global South and Literature. Cambridge University Press.

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