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
  • Simone, AM 2024 (forthcoming) “Urban Life at the Extensions” South Atlantic Quarterly 123.
  • Simone, AM 2024 (forthcoming) “The Atmospheres of Massiveness: The politics and times of the maybe in Southern megaregions.” Introduction to “Massive Urbanisation” Special issue, The Geographical Journal.
  • Simone, AM 2024 “An Urban Political from the “End of the World”: Dock IX and its Technical Epistles. Anthropological Quarterly 97: 335-363.
  • Simone, AM 2023 (forthcoming) “Volumes of Volumes: The Spaciousness of Localities in the Internation Project.” Cultural Politics 19, 3, with Ryan Bishop.
  • Simone, AM 2023 “At the End of Line: Wandering Corridors.” New Geographies 13: 195-203.
  • Simone, AM 2023 “Making Use of Everything: Tangier and its Southern, Peripheral Practices.” South Atlantic Quarterly 122: 339-359.
  • Simone, AM 2023 “The Afterlives of No Arrival: How Papuans Make their Lives Matter.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 
  • Simone, AM 2022 “Radical Unknowability: An Essay on Solidarity and Multiform Urban Life.” City: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action 26: 771-790, with Vanesa Castan Broto.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “No Common Cause: The Spaces of Urban Collective Identity”. Urban Geography 43: 895-903.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “Majority Urban Politics and Lives Worth Living in a Time of Climate Emergency”, Social Text 40: 21-38 with Solomon Benjamin.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “Improvising Urban Futures.” The Boston Review https://www.bostonreview.net/articles/improvising-urban-futures/
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Standing by the promise: Acts of anticipation in Rio and Jakarta. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 39: 573-589, with Laura Kemmer.
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Ritornello: People as Infrastructure.” Urban Geography 42:1341-1348.
  • Simone, AM 2021 "Dwelling in Liminality: Thinking Beyond Inhabitation" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 39: 969-975, with Michele Lancione.
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Counting the Uncountable, Revisiting Urban Majorities”, Public Culture 33:151-160, with Vyjayanthi Rao.
  • Simone, AM 2020 "Urban Chiaroscuro. Plunging into the obscurity of the city." Afrique contemporaine 269-270: 13-40, with Morten Nielsen.
  • Simone, AM 2020 “Extending Sovereignty in the Light of Black Urbanity.” Boundary 2 (online)
  • Simone AM (2020) (Non)Urban Humans: Questions for a Research Agenda (The work the urban could do). International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 44(4): 755-767.
  • Simone AM (2020) Cities of the Global South. Annual Review of Sociology 46: 602-623.
  • Simone AM (2020) Fanfare for the Unsettled. City and Society 32(2). Bishop R and
  • Simone AM (2020) Extending Sovereignty in Light of Black Urbanity. boundary 2 online
  • Simone AM (2019) Maximum Exposure: Making Sense in the Background of Extensive Urbanization. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 37: 990-1006.
  • Simone AM (2019) Muslim Hoedowns, Tentative Language, and the Uncertain Lives of an Urban Majority.” (The 2018 IJURR AAG Lecture) International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 43: 1193-1208.
  • Simone AM (2018) The Urban Majority and Provisional Recompositions in Yangon.  The 2016 Antipode RGS-IBG Lecture. Antipode 50: 23-40.
  • Simone AM (2018) Designing Space for the Majority: Urban Displacements of the Human. Cubic Journal 1; 124-135.
Book chapters
  • Simone, AM 2024 (forthcoming) “Of Tricksters and Diplomats: A shared space.” In Bjørn Enge Bertelsen and Sindre Bangstad (eds.) Engaging Mbembe: Decolonisation, Life, World. Duke University Press
  • Simone, AM 2024 (forthcoming) “Extensions as Infrastructure: The Temporalities between Subjugation and Liberation in Jayapura, West Papua. In Jean-Paul D. Addie, Michael R. Glass, and Jen Nelles (eds.) Infrastructural Times: Temporality and the Making of Global Urban Worlds. Bristol: Bristol University Press.
  • Simone, AM 2023 “The Contingencies of Urban Data: Between the Interoperable and Inoperable.” In Ola Sölderström and Ayona Datta (eds.), Data Power in Action: Urban Data Politics in Times of Crisis. Bristol: Bristol University Press.
  • Simone, AM 2023 “Surrounds and Extensions: Spatalization of the urban beyond capture”. In Nikolina Babic and Farazana Haghighi (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Architecture, Urban Space, and Politics.
  • Simone, AM 2023 “Out of Proportion: The potential of generic in urban built environments”. Håvard Haarstad, Kristin Kjærås, Jakob Grandin, Eleanor Johnson (eds) Sustainability on speed: reflections on rapid and radical change in cities. UCL Press.
  • Simone, AM 2023 “Economies of Availability: substrates of urbanization processes in Africa”. In Deborah Pellow and Suzanne Scheld (eds.) Africa and Urban Anthropology: Theoretical and Methodological Contributions from Contemporary Fieldwork. Routledge.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “Rewilding the City: Preliminary notes on how to make the urban theorize on itself”. In Andrea Mubi Bringhenti (ed.) The New Politics of Visibility. Bristol: Intellect Books, with Morten Neilson.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “On Deformation”. In Ash Amin and Michele Lancione (eds.) Shifting the Ground: A New Grammar for the City. Duke University Press.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “Figuring Accompaniment: The creation of urban spaciousness. In Celia Lury, William Viney, and Scott Wark (eds.) Figure: Concept, Method, and Composition. Palgrave.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “Diversity Machines: urban popular economies and territories of operation”. In Steve Vertovic (ed.) Oxford Handbook on Superdiversity. Oxford University Press.
  • Simone, AM 2022 “(Un)Situated Improvisation”. In Jayne Engle, Julian Agyeman and Tanya Chung-Tiam-Fook (eds). Sacred Civics: Valuing What Matters in Society’s Great Reset. Routledge
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Urban Eventualities, Postcolonial Futures.” In Monika Büscher, Carlos Lopez-Galviz, Astrid Nordin and Emily Spiers (eds.) Social Futures Handbook. London: Routledge.
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Out There, Over the Hills, on the Other Side of the Tracks”: a Horizon of the Global Urban.” In Colin McFarlane and Michele Lancione (eds.) Global Urbanism: Knowledge, Power and the City.
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Neighbors” as Neighborhoods”. In Sadan Jha, Dev Nath Pathak, Amiya Kumar Das (eds.) Neighbouhoods in Urban India: Between Home and the City. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Massive Urbanization and the Circulation of Eventualities”. In Vikramaditya Prakash, Maristella Casciato, and Daniel E. Coslett (eds.). Rethinking Global Modernism: Architectural Historiography and the Postcolonial. Routledge. 16
  • Simone, AM 2021 “Congregations: On the inhabitations of urban humans”. In Stavros Stavrides and Penny Travlou (eds.) Housing as Commons. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Simone, AM 2020 “Securing ‘Standby’ and Urban Space Making in Jakarta: Intensities in Search of Form.” In D. Asher Ghertner, Hudson McFann, and Danield Goldstein (eds.) Futureproof: Security Aesthetics and the Management of Life. Durham NC; London: Duke University Press.
  • Simone, AM 2020 “Navigating the Extensivness of Jakarta.” In Danielle Labbé and André Sorenson (eds.) Handbook of Megacities and Megacity Regions. Cheltenham; Northampton MA: Edward Elgar.
  • 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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