Umar Al Faruq (KCL) - 2021-22 Students

Brave New City: Urban Technopolitics in the Production of the Capital City of Nusantara, Indonesia

In late 2019, Indonesia announced that it will build a new capital city in East Kalimantan. Named Nusantara after the Old Javanese word for the Indonesian archipelago, it has attracted both praise and criticism for a plethora of reasons. Official justifications for its construction range from current capital Jakarta’s deterioration to a more even development of eastern Indonesia. The project has so far enjoyed financial support from foreign investors, despite issues of environmental degradation and marginalisation of adat/indigenous peoples. During a conjuncture in which new cities are being built alongside the development and urbanisation of technological capital in facilitating rentier practices i.e. smart urbanism, Nusantara is symptomatic of such broader processes while maintaining a front of developmentalist ambition. How, then, did Nusantara came to fruition? The aim of this research is to identify the co-constitutive processes involved in the production of Nusantara. This involves exploring how the megaproject is being imagined, driven, contested, or otherwise shaped by different actors and how certain urban imaginaries are produced and prioritised over others. This study will draw on and advances key debates in the fields of developmental urbanism, technopolitics, and Marxist and Gramscian geography. It aims to increase critical spatial understanding of new forms of urbanisation in an increasingly multi-polar global capitalist order and the transformative role non-elite experts/actors may play in them. Such understandings will hopefully produce novel insights for those interested in Southern geographies and urbanisation.

Primary supervisor: Majed Akhter, KCL
Secondary supervisor: Alex Loftus, KCL

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