Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

New Urban Worlds: Inhabiting Dissonant Times

AbdouMaliq Simone, Edgar Pieterse




New Urban Worlds works from the premise that a conventional approach to urban studies, looking at formal systems and broad institutional processes, is insufficient. Instead, it argues, we need to look at the neighbourhood or district level to get at the essence of urban lives.

This would require re-describing urban spaces, to challenge official narratives and to grasp the messy complications of urban change. For instance, telling the stories of people who depend on a busy Jakarta market is important to counter the official story that this market is out of place and needs demolishing.

The book shows a faith in stories, not to effect policy change single-handedly, but to ensure that little-heard voices are recognized. This book is more reflective than concrete. The authors call themselves “two old dogs who have been in the game too long” (page 56), and New Urban Worlds reads like a collection of their thoughts on urban change over the past several decades. Always undergirding this is a concern for social justice in African and Asian cities, which is ever challenged by the commodification and technologization of urban spaces.


Further reading:

Bhan, Gautam (2013), “The real lives of urban fantasies”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 26, No 1, pages 232–235, available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0956247813514305.

Turok, Ivan and Gordon McGranahan (2013), “Urbanization and economic growth: the arguments and evidence for Africa and Asia”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 25, No 2, pages 465–482, available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956247813490908.


Book note prepared by Christine Ro

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