Jakarta: The City of a Thousand Dimensions

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Abidin Kusno

A megacity of 30 million, under threat from rising sea levels and temperatures, Jakarta and its resilient residents improvise and thrive. Indonesian writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma calls Jakarta a city of a thousand dimensions. That suggests not only a picture represented in concepts such as “messy urbanism”, “emergent urbanism”, “incremental urbanism”, “mega-urban region” or “megacity”, it further suggests a form of governmentality (a political rationality, for better or worse) that has been formed through sedimented layers of time, that have shaped the socio-cultural and political life of the city. This book teases out some of the dimensions that have given shape to contemporary Jakarta, including the city’s expanded flexibility in accommodating capital and labour, the formal and the informal, and the consistent lack of planning which can be understood as both politics and poetics of governing.  It shows how such a statecraft is configured, contested, and changed. Required reading for those seeking to understand one of Asia's most dynamic cities.

"The urban is a mellifluous, often malevolent, cacophony of enactments, encumbered by plunder, and enlivened by singular inventions—a process no more illustriously embodied than by Jakarta, which has never been as brilliantly explored nor exorcised as in Kusno’s meditations on urban governmentality as a means of ruling from the middle of things, a constant re-arrangement of oscillating fragments and power relations still fumbling for a universal ideal." –  AbdouMaliq Simone, The University of Sheffield

"Richly textured, revealing, brilliant and original, Abidin Kusno’s Jakarta constitutes an object lesson in urban analysis, where memory, archetype and self, generate complex substrata to our understanding of cities. Jakarta is a revelation, a new way of exposing the invisible, and a method of talking to the multitude and the common in all of us."Alexander Cuthbert, University of New South Wales

"Placing his personal experiences of the metropolis in conversation with western social theory, Kusno conveys the insights that thinking through Jakarta makes possible. This essay collection, examining Jakarta’s everyday life, complex spatiality, variegated stakeholders and political, mobility and environmental challenges, will enable the reader to appreciate how Jakarta works."Eric Sheppard, University of California

Abidin Kusno is Professor at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University, Toronto, and former director of the York Centre for Asian Research (2017-22).

Publication Year: 2023
304 pp, 229 x 152mm
33 b/w images
ISBN: 978-981-325-226-4