Designing Space for the Majority

Urban Displacements of the Human






Urban Displacement, Socialisation, Governance, Contestation, Design Social


Social, historical and architectural research on urbanization processes in the Global South have increasingly valorized the contributions of an “urban majority” — a heuristic composite of working poor, working and lower middle class residents — to the formation of intricate repertoires of built forms, economic practices, infrastructures of affect, and collective sensibilities. Despite oscillating registers of structural violence, colonial residue, geopolitical instability, and systematic dispossession, metropolitan landscapes of the South are replete with an incessantly recalibrated intensity of working with and through uncertainty to deliver ways of life that skirt precarity. The auto-construction of the majority is usually associated with particular forms and practices. If the territories of operation usually associated with this urban majority may find themselves increasingly hemmed in by countervailing forces, is it possible to imagine new forms through which the “archives” of their capacities might be expressed? By intervening into the increasingly formatted, homogenized venues of residential and commercial space, it is possible to conceive new possibilities of the ways in which “majority life” can be re-enacted, but in a manner that strategically modulates the very ways in which that life is made visible.

How to Cite

Simone, A. (2018). Designing Space for the Majority: Urban Displacements of the Human. Cubic Journal, 1(1), 124–135.



Author Biography

AbdouMaliq Simone, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

AbdouMaliq Simone is presently Research Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Visiting Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London and Visiting Professor of Urban Studies at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. Key publications include, In Whose Image: Political Islam and Urban Practices in Sudan, University of Chicago Press, 1994, For the City Yet to Come: Urban Change in Four African Cities, Duke University Press, 2004, and City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroads, Routledge, 2009, Jakarta: Drawing the City Near, University of Minnesota Press, 2014, New Urban Worlds: Inhabiting Dissonant Times, Polity (with Edgar Pieterse), and the forthcoming, Improvised Lives: Rhythms of Endurance in an Urban South (Polity).


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