Aga Khan Program Lecture: AbdouMaliq Simone, “Detachment Down South: On Salvage Operations and City-Making”

As a trope for divergent urbanism, the “Global South”—encompassing Jakarta, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Delhi and other metropolitan areas in the Southern Hemisphere—refers to a distinct amalgam of urban zones constituted by shared subjections to colonialism and underdevelopment, as well as by city-making processes that proceed by culturally dystonic impositions of planning, infrastructure, policy, and provisionally assembled local compensations. Today, the “Global South” is now rapidly fading from view—or perhaps it never should have been envisioned in the first place. The urban South may continue to have some purchase in international political organizing, or in analyses of economic inequality and precariousness of different kinds, at different scales. But urban theory increasingly considers the ways cultural interchanges, economic flows, governance regimes, histories, and alliances actively articulate places in multiple and shifting ways that a continued focus on South–North divides oversimplify or misrepresent. AbdouMaliq Simone will explore this notion “as a means of thinking through the various instances, ambiguities, and powers of detachment as they effect urban residents today, knowing full well that an urban South does not ‘really exist,’” with the aim of relocating the urban South “as a kind of elsewhere at the interior of a seemingly hegemonic trajectory that converts urban space into a uniform everywhere.”

Aboumaliq 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 he has 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, focusing on the concrete challenges of remaking municipal systems, training local government personnel, and designing collaborative partnerships among technicians, residents, artists, and politicians.

Sponsored by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture

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